2020 Season Preview: Maryland Terrapins

By Michael Stanley on September 30, 2020 at 9:49 am
Oct 26, 2019; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Maryland Terrapins place kicker Joseph Petrino (27) celebrates with Maryland Terrapins long snapper James Rosenberry (47) after making a field goal in the first half against the Minnesota Golden Gophers at TCF Bank Stadium.
Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
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Maryland thought they had struck gold in 2014, finally getting over the hump to beat Penn State and doing so in State College. It was their first win over Penn State since 1961 and first ever win in Beaver Stadium. Maryland believed they were prepared to make noise in the Big Ten and start an epic rivalry. They even followed up that game with a one-point loss in 2015 against Christian Hackenberg and company during Mike Locksley's interim debut after Randy Edsall was fired mid-season.

From there though, hopes of a legitimate rivalry quickly dwindled. In the four games since those incredibly tight contests, Penn State has smashed Maryland 201-20. Is this the year Maryland rights the course and gets the series back on track? (Probably not).

Maryland at a Glance

Head Coach Mike Locksley (3rd season; 6-40 overall, 4-14 with Maryland)
2019 Record 3-9 (1-8 in the Big Ten)
2019 Postseason n/a
Biggest Losses QB Josh Jackson, RB Anthony McFarland, ATH Javon Leake, WR DJ Turner,  LB Keandre Jones, S Antoine Brooks
Biggest Returnees WR Dontay Demus Jr., LB Ayinde Eley, S Nick Cross
Summary Maryland is feeling the effects of the disastrous end of the DJ Durkin tenure. The lines on both sides of the balls are decimated and the quarterback position is a never-ending carousel of injuries and mediocre play. They have playmakers at the skill positions but lack greatly in all of the most important positions.
Matchup with PSU Over the past four seasons, this series hasn't even been competitive. Ever since a win in Happy Valley in 2014, the Terrapins have fallen further and further behind the Nittany Lions. 

Offense

Maryland boasts an impressive wide receiver room. Led by the team's leading receiver in 2019, Dontay Demus brings a great all around receiver to the Maryland offense. Behind him is all potential but it's potential a lot of teams would take. Headlining that is 2020 five-star receiver, Rakim Jarrett, one of the most physically imposing freshmen in the country with the athleticism to dominate.

The Terrapins also lost its two leading rushers in Anthony McFarland and Javon Leake who combined for almost 65% of the team's rushing yards in 2019. They'll likely feature a mix of seniors Tayon Fleet-Davis and Jake Funk, and freshmen Peny Boone and Isaiah Jacobs.

Maryland has actually recruited the offensive line relatively well, but year after year the group fails to make an progress. Even though the quarterback play has been poor on its own, it's been exacerbated with how poor the offensive line play has been. If Maryland is to improve, or at least keep a quarterback healthy, they have to do better identifying and developing offensive line talent.

Unfortunately, you need a good quarterback to get the ball to your best players and that is a huge question mark for Maryland. Josh Jackson was uninspiring last season. Lance Legendre has some potential but has shown nothing in game to instill confidence, and transfer Taulia Tagovailoa has all the name recognition couldn't pass an unspectacular Mac Jones down in Alabama.

Maryland needs a Joe Burrow type of surprise out of Legendre or Tagovailoa if they have any hope of a decent offense.

defense

Maryland's defense ranked 114th in the country in 2019 in points allowed per game and 109th in yards allowed per game. If the offense was bad, the defense was atrocious.

The defense lost two of its best players in safety Antoine Brooks and linebacker Keandre Jones. They do return linebacker Ayinde Eley and one of Penn State's biggest defensive targets in the 2019 class, safety Nick Cross. Cross in particular has the potential to be a star in the Big Ten. It isn't likely that the defense improves all that much from 2019 or even becomes respectable.

Special teams

Joseph Petrino returns as the field goal kicker, having gone 2/5 last year and 36/38 on extra points. Having lost Leake, Maryland has to replace him as their main kick returner and currently have Lavonte Gater listed as the starter heading into the season. The special teams unit as a whole does not appear to be very good.

2020 outlook

Maryland has work to do from top to bottom. Unfortunately for them, their best players all reside at positions that are entirely dependent of their supporting cast to be effective, and they lack at the most important positions. While Mike Locksley is a tremendous recruiter and is greatly respected in the DMV area, he'll need to prove he can be successful outside of Alabama before he gets enough talented players to turn the Maryland program around.

The DMV is loaded with talent and provides Maryland a great opportunity to build up their roster over the next several years, but that is a long process that won't be completed by November 7th when they have to visit Happy Valley. Even if it's not another bloodbath, this isn't a game Penn State fans need to be concerned about. The Terrapins will likely watch the postseason from the comfort of their own homes once again this year.

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