Heading into 2019, Maryland finds itself on a four-game losing streak against Penn State, with the latter three matchups turning into beatdowns by the Nittany Lions. If the Terps ever hope to climb out of the bottom rung of the Big Ten East, it will take a huge effort from new head coach Mike Locksley. Maryland fans are hoping the former interim head coach in College Park is the answer to turning around their misfortunes.
Transfers are going to account for a fairly large portion of their contributions on the field in 2019. Getting all of these new faces up to speed will be pivotal for Maryland to take any kind of step forward. Just imagine how different things might be had the Terps finished off Ohio State in 2018...
|Head Coach||Mike Locksley (5th Season, 2nd Season with Maryland), 3-31 overall|
|2018 Record||5-7, 3-6 (5th B1G East)|
|Biggest Losses||S Darnell Savage, DE Byron Cowart, RB Ty Johnson, OG Derwin Gray, OG Damian Prince, LB Tre Watson|
|Biggest Returnees||RB Anthony McFarland, QB Tyrrell Pigrome, LT Jaelyn Duncan, CB Tino Ellis, S Antoine Brooks|
|Summary||Maryland is trying to prove that their near-upset of Ohio State wasn't a fluke but rather a turning of the tide.|
|Matchup with PSU||Maryland has been outclassed by Penn State three straight years, losing by a combined score of 142-20. Maryland gets home-field advantage this year, but has the talent gap closed enough for it to matter?|
This is an absolute and undeniable truth: the success of this offense will rely on the legs of Anthony McFarland. It's possible that this qualifier may not even be limited to the offense, as McFarland is the most talented and electrifying player on Maryland's roster and one of the best playmakers in the B1G already. Last year as a freshman, he ran for 1,034 yards and averaged 7.9 YPC, including a 298-yard performance against Ohio State and a 210-yard outburst against Indiana. But the offense isn't bare without him.
Incoming Virginia Tech quarterback transfer Josh Jackson should be the best option Maryland has had at the position in several years. As a freshman at Virginia Tech, Jackson threw for 2,991 yards and 20 touchdowns while also racking up 324 rushing yards.
Unfortunately, their best receiver, Jeshaun Jones, recently tore his ACL in camp. Maryland will rely heavily on their running game in 2019. Without an adequate offensive line to match up with the best defensive lines in the B1G, it could be a long season of Jackson, McFarland, and the also-explosive Lorenzo Harrison running for their lives.
Maryland is shifting from a base 4-2-5, aka nickel, to a much more efficient 3-4. This change was likely made to accommodate their lack of depth along the defensive line and their previous struggles defending the run. They were gashed to the tune of 184 yards per game last year. That number needs to improve drastically if they are going to be competitive.
While Byron Cowart may not have produced much in his time at Maryland, he was still one of their most talented defensive linemen. With him off to the NFL, there's not much in the way of proven talent left over. Maryland could have issues bringing down the quarterback or putting a whole lot of pressure.
Linebackers are much more of a strength with the immediately eligible Ohio State transfer, Keandre Jones. While it's important to keep in mind that Jones didn't make much of an impact with the Buckeyes, he's still already one of the most talented players on Maryland's defense. He may not come out and light the world on fire but he will improve their defense nonetheless.
The secondary is where the strength of the defense comes to light. Cornerbacks Tino Ellis and Marcus Lewis have been incredibly consistent throughout their careers and provide both talent and experience. The leader of arguably the entire defense, Antoine Brooks, will look to be a jack of all trades in his quest to repeat as an all-conference performer. He returns after turning in 68 tackles and 9.5 TFL.
Maryland has been recruiting like a top-35/40 team for a few years now, so it's not entirely clear how they've been so thoroughly dominated in so many games against the Ohio States, Penn States, and Michigans of the world. While their skill positions may not be lacking, the true problem comes in the trenches. Championships are won by the hogs up front, and Maryland has lacked severely in that department over the years.
While Maryland fans expect Locksley to be the answer to their prayers of good football, it'd be wise to temper expectations greatly with a coach who's gone 3-31 in his time as a head coach. Maryland will focus on becoming bowl-eligible in 2019 and playing in competitive games against the best teams in the B1G, but they're still quite a bit away from winning the East division, let alone the conference or contending for the playoffs.