Detroit Rock City here we come! The Terps will fly out to the beautiful city of Detroit to take on the Boston College (6-6) Eagles in the Quick Lane Bowl from Ford Field on December 26th.
It was an up and down season for the Terps- they jumped out to a 4-0 start and then crawled their way to a 6-6 finish, stopping in against Penn State as an away favorite along the way. They faced what was possibly the toughest three game stretch any college team had to face, playing at Michigan, home vs Ohio State, and at Nebraska. The Terps held their own in those three games, getting outscored 149-13. They beat Rutgers in the regular season finale to return to a bowl for the first time since the 2014 Fosters Farm Bowl. They had a few games they should have won that slipped out of their hands, they easily could have beat Indiana and had a chance to win the game against Minnesota. They played better than their record.
Coming into the season with a new head coach and staff, going 6-6 a season after going 3-9 and 1-7 in the B1g Ten last season is fine with me. They didn’t blow anyone away this season, but they weren’t as bad as folks thought they would be. Quarterback Perry Hills fought injuries all season, but still completed 66% of his passes and threw for 1,235, 10 touchdowns and only 3 picks. Freshman Tyrrell Pigrome showed us some flashes with his feet and ended up third on the team in rushing with 254 yards and 4 tds to go with 322 yards and 2 TDs through the air.
Quarterback turnovers in general were way down, they threw 8 all this season after combining for 29 last season. New OC Walt Bell really turned this offense around, spread the ball out, got the ball in the hands of the playmakers, and let them go wild with it.
The running backs were a pleasant surprise this season. They were led by sophomore Ty Johnson, who rushed for 845 yards and 4 TDs on 95 carries. One awesome game was a 7 carry, 204 yards and 2 TD performance against Purdue. The team in total rushed for 2,466 yards and 24 scores, the 2,466 yards were fourth in the conference. If you get their little guys in space, Johnson, or freshmen Lorenzo Harrison and Jake Funk, they can make you miss. They also have some bangers like Kenneth Goins who can run it down your throat.
DJ Moore was the best wideout for the Terps, leading the team with 38 snags for 597 yards and 6 scores. Teldrick Moore had 40 for 407 yards and 3 touchdowns, and Levern Jacobs had 37 catches and 368 yards and a score. Don’t worry about the tight ends, they only had 4 catches combined. All year. Like, total. Always good to leave room for improvement.
The defense for the Terps is a different story. Will Likely, the best player on the team, and your mom’s favorite player (h/t @Banks) tore an ACL during the year, which ended his Maryland career. He was their best cornerback, an offensive weapon, and also an outstanding special teams returner. Shane Cockrille, a former QB turned linebacker, finished with 108 tackles and 3 sacks. He’s a tackling machine. Jermaine Carter Jr, another linebacker, finished with 99 tackles and 5 sacks, plus a pick. Darnell Savage picked it up when Likely went down and finished the season with 56 tackles from the secondary. The defense did have a problem forcing turnovers, gathering only 4 picks and 6 fumbles all season, 10 total, not great.
As good as Maryland’s rushing attack is, that is how bad their run D is. They gave up 2,615 yards, and 30 touchdowns. Giving up over 217 rushing yards a game is not how you win games in the B1G, or in high school. Their defensive line was pretty much nonexistent, they couldn’t get any pressure at all during the season. Good news for that is that Boston College can’t run the ball. They averaged only 3.4 YPC all season, and their leading rusher, Jon Hillman, had 519 yards and 3 touchdowns. If there was ever a team the Terps could stop from rushing the ball, it’s the Eagles.
Maryland’s pass defense wasn’t much better than their run D. Giving up over 2,500 yards, and 16 touchdowns. Now I’m sure a lot of those rushing yards came when the Terps were down big in some games. Much like their rushing attack, Boston College’s receivers don’t really scare you. Their leading pass catcher had 30 grabs for 357 yards and 3 touchdowns. This won’t be a shootout through the air, I’d expect a ton of running the ball from both teams. Stick to what works.
We still have a few weeks until the bowl games kick off, but my guess is this one won’t be high on the list of “Must Watch Games”. But like I said at the top, for a team that won 3 games last season, this is a step in the right direction. No one wants to be 6-6, but they weren’t picked to make a bowl heading into the season, and that is big for a first year head coach and the young guys. So let me be the first to congratulate DJ Durkin, his coaching staff, and the players on doubling their wins from 2015 with a much harder schedule. Next year, I fully expect this team to challenge Ohio State and Michigan for the top spot in the B1G. Or maybe the year after. Or possibly the year after.
I’m picking the Dirty Terps to win this game in the trenches and with their shifty playmakers, 33- 21. Now head up to Detroit, celebrate Christmas in the Motor City, and get ready for that Kid Rock halftime show.