Maryland Terrapins preview

Randy Edsall has made changes on defense for Maryland. Mitch Stringer/USA TODAY Sports

An offense that can’t run the ball and a defense that can’t stop the run won’t hack it in the Big Ten East. The Terrapins are banking on changes—in personnel and in scheme—to jump-start a team that came one 25-point meltdown away from winning eight games last season.


How the Terrapins beat you: In a tough-to-pull-off feat, Maryland’s offense managed just 341.9 total ypg (No. 12 in the Big Ten and No. 109 in the FBS) but scored a respectable 28.5 ppg (No. 5 and No. 65). Some of that anomalous scoring came via big-play receiver Stefon Diggs, who reeled in 4 TDs of 20-plus yards. Diggs is gone, along with Deon Long (51 catches), but the WR corps is fast, deep and explosive enough to ensure that the unit remains the Terps’ most productive this fall. Senior Levern Jacobs is a proven threat (team-high 640 receiving yards in ’13) and returns from a season-long suspension stemming from an assault charge (he was found not guilty). His younger brother, sophomore Taivon Jacobs, returns after also missing 2014, with a knee injury. And after a strong spring game (6 catches, 132 yards, 3 TDs), Marcus Leak looks ready to assume more responsibility (20 catches in ’14).

How you beat the Terrapins: No back ran for more than 419 rush yards in ’14. And the Terps’ top overall rusher? QB C.J. Brown, who departs. His heir apparent, senior Caleb Rowe, isn’t the same threat to pull it down and run, so unless senior Brandon Ross and junior Wes Brown (775 yards combined) radically up their game, the Terps’ ground woes might continue.


How the Terrapins beat you: Maryland allowed 30-plus points seven times—including 41 to Rutgers, when the Terps coughed up a 25-point lead and lost their regular-season finale. No wonder, then, that coach Randy Edsall sought change this offseason, starting with new D-coordinator Keith Dudzinski. “There are some things that we’re doing that are going to serve us better because of the personnel,” Edsall says. Tops among them? Shifting to a 4-3, a change meant to get front seven playmakers junior Yannick Ngakoue and sophomore Jesse Aniebonam closer to the line of scrimmage. Because while the defense has athletes in the backfield (junior CB William Likely: 9 pass breakups, 6 INTs), one of the few things the Terps did well as a unit was rush the QB (32 sacks, No. 36 in the FBS).

How you beat the Terrapins: Welcome to life in the Big Ten, where size still matters. Against the conference’s bullies, Maryland got, well, bullied on the ground, allowing 250-plus rush yards to Ohio State, Michigan State and Wisconsin. For the season, the Terps allowed 26 rush TDs in goal-to-go situations (No. 115 in the FBS). There’s only so much bulk Edsall can add in a year, especially after losing four of his top six defensive linemen, which means more trouble in the trenches is in store.