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Know Thy Opponent 2019: Maryland Terrapins

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Maryland is in a transition year and will be Purdue’s Homecoming opponent.

NCAA Football: Ohio State at Maryland Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

I know it has been a few years, but it is still strange to me whenever we play Maryland. It still feels like a non-conference game, especially when this is the first time ever that the Terrapins will travel to Purdue. When it comes to major conference opponents Purdue has played TCU and Vanderbilt, both on this year’s schedule, the same number of times it has played Maryland.

The last time these two teams met was not pretty, either. I went to College Park in my quest to see Purdue play in all 14 Big Ten Stadiums and it was bad even by Darrell Hazell standards. Purdue had a chance at early momentum when Markus Bailey intercepted Perry Hills and returned it to the Maryland 23, but the Boilers then missed a field goal and the rout was on. Ty Johnson ran for 204 yards and two touchdowns on just seven carries as the Terps rolled 50-7. Elijah Sindelar got his first career action that day, but Maryland ran for 400 yards to Purdue’s 10. It was 36-0 before Purdue finally scored early in the fourth quarter, but Maryland erased that TD just 80 seconds later.

It was so bad that Testudo Times even tweeted this at one point:

Obviously, things are better now. We, as fans, were in a dark place then and there is actual hope now. A complete change of direction from top to bottom, plus a pair of Big Ten basketball titles and deep runs in March will do that. Maryland went on to go 6-6 that year before losing the Quick Lane Bowl to Boston College and hasn’t been bowling since. They have been an underwhelming team that has struggled away from home in league play, so Purdue should have an advantage here.

Maryland Terrapins

2018 Record: 5-7, 3-6 Big Ten East

Bowl Result: None

Blog Representation: Testudo Times

Series with Purdue: Maryland Leads 2-0

Last Purdue win: None

Last Maryland win: 50-7 at Maryland on 10/1/2016

Head Coach: Mike Locksley (1-5 in First Full season at Maryland, 3-31 overall)

Last Season for the Terrapins

It was a crazy season for Maryland last year. The offseason death of Jordan McNair led to the suspension and eventual firing of DJ Durkin, who did not coach a game all year. Matt Canada handled things in an interim capacity and started things off with a shock 34-29 win over Texas, the second straight season that Maryland stunned the Longhorns. After beating Bowling Green in week 2 Maryland lost at home to Temple, then whipped Minnesota 42-13. Life on the road in the Big Ten was tough, however, and they were 0-4 away from College Park in conference play. They also lost at home to Ohio State and Michigan State. The 52-51 overtime home loss to the Buckeyes was one of the most entertaining games of the year as a late TD in regulation saved the Buckeyes and Maryland was unable to win it by going for two in overtime.

That game ultimately cost Maryland a bowl game and for some odd reason Canada was not retained as full-time coach. Instead they hired Mike Locksley, who is only 3-31 in his career, including a 1-5 stint in 2015 as interim coach at Maryland. I guess someone, technically, has to be head coach at Maryland.

One of the more interesting stats for this game is Maryland’s record on the road in Big Ten games. They were 3-1 in their first year in the league, winning at Penn State, Michigan, and Indiana, but since then they are a dismal 2-15 away from College Park in conference play, winning only at Rutgers in 2015 and at Minnesota in 2017.

Maryland Offense

It is hard to say what we will see out of Maryland in 2019 offensively. They have an entirely new coaching staff and the quarterback position is a bit up for grabs. Tyrell Pigrome threw for 561 yards and 2 TDs last season and saw mop-up duty against Purdue in 2016, but the Terps only passed for 1,695 yards as a team. Josh Jackson is the favorite to win the job after transferring in from Virginia Tech. He threw for 575 yards and 5 TDs last season in Blacksburg before missing the last nine games with injury. This was a year after he threw for 2,991 yards and 20 TDs against only 9 picks, so he should solidify the passing game.

The running game should be strong with the return of Anthony McFarland Jr. He rushed for 1,034 yards and 4 TDs last season. Javon Leake was also solid with 317 yards and 7 TDs. That is a very nice duo to build around, but there are only two starters back on the offensive line. Still, this was a team that rushed for over 2,700 yards a year ago. They’ll be seeking more balance in the passing game, but the running game will be solid.

Jeshaun Jones is the top returning receiver, but he had only 22 receptions for 288 yards and 5 TDs last season. That was a good two weeks for Rondale Moore last year. Dontay Demus and DJ Turner each caught 13 passes, but only one TD between them. Overall the Jekyll/Hyde nature of the offense was seen in late October last year. Maryland was shutout at Iowa 23-0, then came home and beat Illinois 63-33.

Maryland Defense

Maryland had its moments last season defensively. They were solid against Minnesota and Rutgers, but struggled against good offenses. They also have a new coordinator as the coaching staff had a complete overhaul. Up front Adam McLean and Keiron Howard give them a set of nice defensive tackles to build around, but they must find a couple of decent ends to compliment them.

In the secondary Antoine Brooks Jr. is a great safety to build around. He had 68 tackles and an interception last season and still got into the backfield for two sacks. Nick Cross is also a promising true freshman, while Tino Ellis brings experience to the corner position.

At linebacker the Terps should get better with the addition of grad transfer Shaq Smith from Clemson. He had 17 tackles last season for the reigning National Champions, and Isaiah Davis (94 tackles, 2 sacks) gives them another good linebacker to build around. It seems like Maryland has some very good pieces in the middle of the defense with Davis, Brooks, McLean, and Howard, but the outside seven are a bit of a question mark.

Maryland Special Teams

Maryland brings back an Australian-style punter with Wade Lees, who averaged just under 41 yards per punt last season. Joseph Petrino was 12 of 14 on field goals with a long of 40 yards as a true freshman.

In the kicking game Javon Leake will be a dangerous return man. He returned 17 kicks last year for a 24 yard average and had one touchdown. There was not much of consequence in the punt return game.

Game Outlook

I can’t say I have a lot of confidence in the hiring of Locksley. His 3-31 overall record in three and a half seasons as a head coach is practically Hazellian. In his first head coaching stop at New Mexico he didn’t even make it halfway through his third season, going 2-26 from 2009-11. He was the offensive coordinator at Alabama last season and won the Broyles award as the nation’s top assistant, but with the sheer talent Alabama has I am sure I could offensively coordinate Alabama to 8-4.

Before this game Maryland hosts Howard and Syracuse before playing at Temple. They open Big Ten play by hosting Penn State before going to Rutgers. This is still a team that struggled offensively last year, has been awful on the road in conference play, and has a new coach whose overall record is hardly inspiring.

Way-too-Early Prediction

This game is homecoming and it comes on my 40thbirthday. We don’t have many easy ones this year, but I think most people would classify this as an easier game than most. I think Purdue has a solid day at home and pulls away late. Purdue 38, Maryland 20