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1. An ode to randomness
Combined with injuries in other areas and a wealth of transfers -- head coach Randy Edsall didn't really make many friends in his first 12 months in College Park -- Maryland was incredibly, ridiculously young last season. And the evidence is clear in the players listed below. There are three sophomore quarterbacks with experience. The three leading returning running backs are sophomores. The three leading returning receivers are sophomores. Four of the six offensive linemen with starting experience are either sophomores or juniors. The top four returning defensive linemen are either sophomores or juniors. The top four returning linebackers are juniors. The top three returning safeties are either sophomores or juniors. It's staggering.
Through this lens, one fact becomes rather incredible: Maryland actually improved in 2012.
Last year's Maryland preview was suitably focused on injuries. Any time you finish the season with a true freshman linebacker at quarterback, chances are good that health will be the overriding theme. That Maryland managed to improve even slightly in 2012 was a positive sign for the future, especially considering that, in theory, injuries luck would probably be more on the Terps' side the following season.
And technically it was. Quarterback C.J. Brown did miss another couple of games, but he was around to finish the season. The lines remained mostly intact. It could have been worse.
But the Terps' were still pretty snake-bitten. They boasted two five-star receivers, and both were lost for the season midway through. They were still forced to dip into the third string for healthy linebackers (granted, they were playing linebacker, not quarterback, this time). They still lost a potential starting cornerback before the season began. And while we're at it, they still saw their starting running back get suspended for the season. Karma still didn't smile on College Park.
In terms of injuries, the last two years have been bad enough that I actually found myself wondering if Maryland is doing something wrong from a strength and conditioning perspective. There's no evidence of that, and no evidence of some sort of mineral in the tap water that weakens bones and ACLs. All we know is Maryland's been on the negative side of the injuries line for two straight years, and in theory -- in theory! -- it doesn't always remain that way.
We also know that Maryland figured out a way to improve again despite this.
2. In an injury-free utopia...
...Maryland could actually be very good this year. Ignore everything you know about recent injuries, and see what the Terrapins return. A well-seasoned dual-threat quarterback. Starting running backs from both 2012 and 2013. The aforementioned five-star receivers (Stefon Diggs and Deon Long), plus the three exciting receivers who thrived in their absence. Five players with starting experience on a solid offensive line. The top five tacklers on a solid defensive line. Eight of last year's top 10 linebackers. Five of last year's top six defensive backs, plus the aforementioned 2012 starter (Jeremiah Johnson). A smattering of well-touted freshmen and redshirt freshmen. Basically everybody from a top-20 special teams unit.
From a pure athleticism-and-potential standpoint, few teams in Maryland's new conference boast more talent than the Terps. And if the injury dice ever fall in favor of Randy Edsall's squad, they're a candidate for a pretty impressive breakthrough. If.
2013 Schedule & Results
|Record: 7-6 | Adj. Record: 9-4 | Final F/+ Rk: 63|
|Date||Opponent||Opp. F/+ Rk||Score||W-L||Adj. Score||Adj. W-L||5-gm Adj. Avg.|
|31-Aug||Florida International||125||43-10||W||33.4 - 19.2||W|
|7-Sep||Old Dominion||N/A||47-10||W||33.0 - 19.8||W|
|14-Sep||Connecticut||93||32-21||W||33.8 - 27.1||W|
|21-Sep||vs. West Virginia||76||37-0||W||19.7 - 13.2||W|
|5-Oct||at Florida State||1||0-63||L||21.3 - 27.7||L||6.8|
|12-Oct||Virginia||79||27-26||W||38.9 - 37.6||W||4.2|
|19-Oct||at Wake Forest||81||10-34||L||29.6 - 37.7||L||0.0|
|26-Oct||Clemson||16||27-40||L||29.1 - 26.1||W||-0.7|
|9-Nov||Syracuse||75||3-20||L||15.8 - 26.6||L||-4.2|
|16-Nov||at Virginia Tech||27||27-24||W||31.7 - 23.3||W||-1.2|
|23-Nov||Boston College||65||26-29||L||17.3 - 29.3||L||-3.9|
|30-Nov||at N.C. State||92||41-21||W||33.8 - 24.9||W||-0.5|
|27-Dec||vs. Marshall||52||20-31||L||34.0 - 26.1||W||0.5|
|Points Per Game||26.2||84||25.3||56|
|Adj. Points Per Game||28.6||63||26.1||51|
3. Fade and rally
For a while, it appeared as if the breakthrough could come in 2013. Maryland began the season 4-0, and while the victims of that run were far from spectacular, the Terps were treating them like bad teams. They won their first four games by an average score of 40-10, and after a ritual slaughter at Florida State (not the only one the Seminoles dished out in 2013), they survived some terrible fumbles luck against Virginia (Maryland recovered zero of the game's four fumbles) to survive.
But against Wake Forest, Deon Long broke his tibia and fibula and Stefon Diggs broke his fibula (again, something in the water in College Park...), and a mini-collapse began. The Terps fell to 5-4. But they rallied.
Adj. Points Per Game (first 4 games): Maryland 30.0, Opponent 19.8 (plus-10.2)
Adj. Points Per Game (next 5 games): Opponent 31.1, Maryland 26.9 (minus-4.2)
Adj. Points Per Game (last 4 games): Maryland 29.2, Opponent 25.9 (plus-3.3)
Maryland's defense dominated Virginia Tech, and C.J. Brown had a great rushing day against a stout Tech defense, and the Terps upset the Hokies in Blacksburg. They handled a bad NC State team in Raleigh as well and finished 7-5. The bowl game against Marshall wasn't particularly pleasant, but they lost more because Marshall played great. And besides, finishing 7-6 with a nowhere-near-full-strength squad was once again a sign of improvement.
|FIVE FACTORS -- OFFENSE|
|Raw Category||Rk||Opp. Adj. Category||Rk|
|EFFICIENCY||Succ. Rt.||38.9%||96||Succ. Rt. +||102.5||50|
|FIELD POSITION||Def. Avg. FP||31.1||93||Def. FP+||96.4||94|
|FINISHING DRIVES||Pts. Per Trip in 40||3.9||90||Redzone S&P+||86.4||107|
|Q1 Rk||33||1st Down Rk||30|
|Q2 Rk||45||2nd Down Rk||55|
|Q3 Rk||50||3rd Down Rk||77|
4. Start and finish
Even despite the unexpected, tibia-related turnover in the receiving corps, Maryland was able to create quite a few big plays in 2013. Diggs and Long combined to average 16.3 yards per catch, and in their absence, Levern Jacobs, Nigel King, and Amba Etta-Tawo combined to average a healthy 14.3. Both Brandon Ross and Albert Reid showed solid next-level explosiveness. C.J. Brown knew what to do in the open field as well. The ingredients for a great offense were very much on display.
The problem was that Maryland was pretty awful at both starting and finishing drives. The Terps' explosiveness was muted by mediocre efficiency numbers and far too many three-and-outs, and despite strong running, a dual-threat at quarterback, and a decent line, the Terps had one of the worst red zone offenses in the country. Brad Craddock was asked to attempt 17 field goals of under 40 yards, and Maryland averaged only 3.9 points per trip inside the opponent's 40. That's not going to cut it.
That so much talent returns is exciting; it's only going to matter if the Terps start and finish better.
Note: players in bold below are 2014 returnees. Players in italics are questionable with injury/suspension.
|C.J. Brown||6'3, 210||Sr.||3 stars (5.6)||166||282||2242||13||7||58.9%||22||7.2%||6.8|
|Perry Hills (2012)||6'2, 205||So.||3 stars (5.5)||97||169||1336||8||7||57.4%||24||12.4%||6.0|
|Caleb Rowe||6'3, 205||Jr.||3 stars (5.6)||63||130||984||5||3||48.5%||6||4.4%||6.9|
|Shane Cockerille||6'2, 220||RSFr.||3 stars (5.7)|
|Will Ulmer||6'0, 185||Fr.||3 stars (5.7)|
|Brandon Ross||RB||5'10, 210||Jr.||2 stars (5.3)||166||776||4||4.7||5.2||39.2%|
|C.J. Brown||QB||6'3, 210||Sr.||3 stars (5.6)||118||736||12||6.2||8.4||37.3%|
|Wes Brown (2012)||RB||6'0, 200||So.||4 stars (5.8)||90||382||2||4.2||3.3||N/A|
|Albert Reid||RB||5'9, 205||Jr.||3 stars (5.6)||70||294||2||4.2||6.4||25.7%|
|Jacquille Veii||RB||5'9, 181||So.||2 stars (5.4)||39||142||0||3.6||4.4||35.9%|
|Caleb Rowe||QB||6'3, 205||Jr.||3 stars (5.6)||14||74||0||5.3||4.0||42.9%|
|Kenneth Goins Jr.||FB||5'9, 225||So.||2 stars (5.4)||9||48||0||5.3||1.7||55.6%|
|Levern Jacobs||WR||5'11, 185||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)||7||19||0||2.7||5.9||42.9%|
|Stefon Diggs||WR||6'0, 195||Jr.||5 stars (6.1)||7||45||0||6.4||4.4||71.4%|
|Levern Jacobs||WR||5'11, 185||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)||71||46||640||64.8%||18.2%||54.4%||9.0||85||9.5||88.7|
|Nigel King||WR||6'3, 210||Jr.||3 stars (5.7)||59||33||450||55.9%||15.1%||41.9%||7.6||20||6.2||62.3|
|Stefon Diggs||WR||6'0, 195||Jr.||5 stars (6.1)||56||34||587||60.7%||14.3%||67.4%||10.5||163||11.4||81.3|
|Amba Etta-Tawo||WR||6'1, 190||So.||3 stars (5.5)||55||31||500||56.4%||14.1%||51.2%||9.1||98||8.8||69.3|
|Deon Long||WR||6'0, 195||Sr.||5 stars (6.1)||55||32||489||58.2%||14.1%||48.9%||8.9||81||8.8||67.8|
|Brandon Ross||RB||5'10, 210||Jr.||2 stars (5.3)||26||18||173||69.2%||6.6%||30.4%||6.7||-37||5.9||24.0|
|Malcolm Culmer||WR||5'11, 190||So.||2 stars (5.4)||13||5||59||38.5%||3.3%||57.1%||4.5||-22||5.2||8.2|
|Albert Reid||RB||5'9, 205||Jr.||3 stars (5.6)||10||5||57||50.0%||2.6%||42.9%||5.7||-12||7.1||7.9|
|Kenneth Goins Jr.||FB||5'9, 225||So.||2 stars (5.4)||8||4||56||50.0%||2.0%||100.0%||7.0||1||3.7||7.8|
|Jacquille Veii||RB||5'9, 181||So.||2 stars (5.4)||6||5||18||83.3%||1.5%||100.0%||3.0||-36||1.4||2.5|
|Daniel Adams||WR||6'2, 205||Jr.||3 stars (5.7)|
|Marcus Leak||WR||6'0, 210||Jr.||3 stars (5.6)|
|Andrew Isaacs||TE||6'2, 250||So.||4 stars (5.8)|
|P.J. Gallo||TE||6'2, 250||So.||3 stars (5.5)|
|DeAndre Lane||WR||5'7, 165||So.||2 stars (5.3)|
|Taivon Jacobs||WR||5'9, 155||RSFr.||3 stars (5.7)|
|Juwann Winfree||WR||6'2, 180||Fr.||4 stars (5.8)|
5. Simply loaded out wide
I use "Injuries hurt in the present tense but help in the future tense" enough in these previews to qualify it for cliché status. But I say it because it's frequently true. Take, for instance, Maryland's receiving corps. Thanks to injuries, it now runs five-deep. Diggs and Long were as good as advertised over the first half of the season, averaging 10.5 and 8.9 yards per target, respectively. Their injuries briefly hamstrung the offense, as did Brown's, but new guys began to step up. Nigel King caught 10 passes for 141 yards against Clemson and Wake Forest. Levern Jacobs caught eight for 158 against Clemson and seven for 100 against Marshall. And in the final five games, Amba Etta-Tawo caught 20 for 387 yards.
So now Maryland returns five players who were targeted between 55 and 71 times in 2013; four of the five averaged at least 8.9 yards per target. Catch rates do need to improve -- only one of the five caught better than 61 percent of his targets last year -- and we'll see what happens with ball distribution, but the potential here is off the charts, especially considering that junior Marcus Leak surged in the spring as well.
|Sal Conaboy||C||6'3, 290||Sr.||3 stars (5.7)||22|
|Ryan Doyle||LT||6'4, 300||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)||13|
|Michael Dunn||RT||6'5, 295||So.||NR||13|
|Andrew Zeller||RG||6'4, 300||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)||7|
|Moise Larose||LT||6'6, 305||So.||3 stars (5.5)||1|
|Silvano Altamirano||LG||6'2, 295||Sr.||2 stars (5.4)||0|
|Evan Mulrooney||LG||6'4, 290||Sr.||2 stars (5.4)||0|
|Jake Wheeler||RT||6'7, 305||Sr.||2 stars (5.4)||0|
|Stephen Grommer||C||6'4, 290||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)||0|
|JuJuan Dulaney||RG||6'2, 290||RSFr.||3 stars (5.5)|
|Damian Prince||OL||6'5, 300||Fr.||5 stars (6.1)|
|Derwin Gray||LT||6'5, 300||Fr.||4 stars (5.9)|
6. Costly glitches
How to Big Ten
Maryland started a mostly new line in 2013 -- it had a modest 30 career starts heading into the season -- and, all things considered (inexperience, wretched 2012 performance), put up decent numbers. Considering brief injury troubles at quarterback and two sophomores and a freshman at running back, the line could certainly have done worse than ranking 44th in Adj. Line Yards and 70th in Adj. Sack Rate.
With better experience this time around (55 career starts, not including the one from Moise Larose, who's suspended for the year), along with the potential addition of a pair of stud freshmen, one can expect the line to improve a bit on these numbers.
That said, these numbers were perhaps inflated a bit. Brown's passing-downs scrambles boosted the passing downs rushing numbers, and some relatively quick passing on standard downs helped the sack rates. The line had the tendency to let defenders in the backfield at inopportune times. Mobile quarterbacks tend to have higher sack rates, but a 9.6 percent sack rate on passing downs is way too high. Young running backs tend to dance a bit too much make mistakes in the backfield, but Maryland's 25.2 percent stuff rate (run stops behind the line) was almost the worst in the country. Plus, the short-yardage numbers were poor as well. Experienced skill position personnel will help these numbers a bit, but the line needs to be less error-prone for the offense to reach what really is vast potential.
|FIVE FACTORS -- DEFENSE|
|Raw Category||Rk||Opp. Adj. Category||Rk|
|EFFICIENCY||Succ. Rt.||39.3%||33||Succ. Rt. +||98.8||58|
|FIELD POSITION||Off. Avg. FP||31.2||42||Off. FP+||99.5||68|
|FINISHING DRIVES||Pts. Per Trip in 40||4.1||61||Redzone S&P+||104.6||41|
|Q1 Rk||33||1st Down Rk||54|
|Q2 Rk||61||2nd Down Rk||100|
|Q3 Rk||66||3rd Down Rk||38|
|Rivals||GP||Tackles||% of Team||TFL||Sacks||Int||PBU||FF||FR|
|Andre Monroe||DE||5'11, 275||Sr.||2 stars (5.4)||13||33.5||4.2%||17.0||9.5||0||1||2||0|
|Quinton Jefferson||DE||6'3, 275||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)||13||33.0||4.1%||7.5||3.0||0||0||1||0|
|Darius Kilgo||NT||6'3, 310||Sr.||3 stars (5.5)||13||26.5||3.3%||6.5||2.0||0||1||0||0|
|Keith Bowers||NT||6'1, 275||Sr.||3 stars (5.5)||13||22.0||2.8%||0.0||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Roman Braglio||DE||6'2, 265||So.||3 stars (5.6)||10||5.0||0.6%||3.5||2.0||0||0||0||0|
|Nate Clarke||NT||6'3, 305||Jr.||4 stars (5.8)||8||2.0||0.3%||1.0||0.0||0||0||1||0|
|Kingsley Opara||DE||6'3, 285||RSFr.||3 stars (5.5)|
|Malik Jones||DE||6'4, 260||RSFr.||2 stars (5.4)|
|Chandler Burkett||DE||6'3, 230||RSFr.||2 stars (5.4)|
|Rivals||GP||Tackles||% of Team||TFL||Sacks||Int||PBU||FF||FR|
|Cole Farrand||ILB||6'3, 245||Sr.||2 stars (5.4)||11||61.5||7.7%||4.5||0.5||0||0||1||0|
|Matt Robinson||OLB||6'3, 240||Sr.||3 stars (5.5)||11||58.0||7.3%||10.0||0.5||0||4||1||0|
|L.A. Goree||ILB||6'2, 235||Sr.||3 stars (5.6)||12||57.5||7.2%||4.5||1.0||0||1||1||0|
|Alex Twine||OLB||6'0, 235||Sr.||2 stars (5.4)||11||37.5||4.7%||2.5||0.0||0||1||1||0|
|Abner Logan||ILB||6'1, 235||So.||4 stars (5.8)||12||29.5||3.7%||2.0||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Yannik Cudjoe-Virgil||OLB||6'2, 255||Sr.||NR||6||13.0||1.6%||3.5||3.0||1||0||0||0|
|Yannick Ngakoue||OLB||6'2, 250||So.||4 stars (5.9)||13||8.0||1.0%||4.5||2.0||1||0||1||0|
|Cavon Walker||OLB||6'2, 235||So.||3 stars (5.5)||13||5.5||0.7%||0.0||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Clarence Murphy||OLB||6'2, 250||Sr.||3 stars (5.6)|
|Avery Thompson||OLB||6'2, 220||Jr.||2 stars (5.3)|
|Brock Dean||ILB||6'0, 220||So.||3 stars (5.5)|
|Jalen Brooks||ILB||6'1, 230||RSFr.||3 stars (5.5)|
|Jermaine Carter, Jr.||ILB||6'0, 235||RSFr.||3 stars (5.5)|
|Jesse Aniebonam||LB||6'5, 240||Fr.||4 stars (5.8)|
|Tyler Burke||LB||6'4, 240||Fr.||3 stars (5.6)|
7. A stout front seven
The Maryland defense regressed a bit in 2013, from 50th in Def. F/+ to 64th, but that was perhaps to be expected. The Terps had to replace five front-seven starters who had combined for 46 tackles for loss, 23.5 sacks, and 15 passes defensed in 2012, and when combined with unexpected shuffling at linebacker (eight players averaged at least one tackle per game, and only two of them played all 13 games), regression was almost inevitable.
That said, the slip was minor. The defense was still decent, and the front seven still made plays. Andre Monroe came back after missing 2012 and spent a good portion of the season in the backfield. Darius Kilgo proved an agile, interesting force at nose tackle. And outside linebackers Matt Robinson and Marcus Whitfield combined for 26 tackles for loss.
Maryland replaced play-makers with play-makers, and while Whitfield is gone, virtually everybody esle of consequence returns, and despite Abner Logan's suspension, there is a lot of high-profile younger talent (Yannick Ngakoue, Nate Clark, Jesse Aniebonam, Roman Braglio) that could make an impact. The run defense was a strength last year (especially in short-yardage situations) and should be again.
|Rivals||GP||Tackles||% of Team||TFL||Sacks||Int||PBU||FF||FR|
|Sean Davis||S||6'1, 195||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)||13||83.0||10.4%||1.5||0.5||2||3||1||0|
|William Likely||CB||5'7, 175||So.||4 stars (5.8)||13||60.5||7.6%||4.5||0||1||6||0||0|
|Anthony Nixon||S||6'1, 205||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)||11||49.0||6.1%||3||0||0||0||0||0|
|CB||5'11, 190||Sr.||3 stars (5.6)||12||37.5||5.7%||5||1.5||0||8||1||0|
|A.J. Hendy||S||6'0, 205||Sr.||3 stars (5.7)||13||26.0||3.3%||1||0||1||2||0||0|
|Alvin Hill||CB||5'11, 200||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)||12||19.0||2.4%||0||0||0||2||0||0|
|Zach Dancel||S||6'0, 195||Jr.||2 stars (5.1)||12||7.5||0.9%||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Jarrett Ross||CB||5'9, 195||So.||3 stars (5.6)||12||6.5||0.8%||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Michael Washington||CB||5'8, 180||Sr.||NR|
|Undray Clark||CB||5'9, 195||Jr.||3 stars (5.6)|
|Milan Collins||S||6'1, 200||So.||3 stars (5.6)|
|Elvis Dennah||S||6'2, 205||So.||2 stars (5.3)|
8. A Likely star
The big issue for Maryland's defense in 2013 came through the air. If the Terps couldn't get pressure on the quarterback (or even if they could), there were big plays for the taking.
When you look at the personnel, this makes sense. Corners Dexter McDougle (shoulder) and Jeremiah Johnson (two), the leading tacklers in the secondary a year earlier, combined to play six games with a shoulder injury and fractured toe, respectively. That thrust then-freshman William Likely into the forefront. Plus, both starting safeties were sophomores. A young secondary is always going to be prone to breakdowns; Maryland's sure was.
Youth turns into experience, and with Johnson's return there are now three juniors and two seniors among Maryland's top six returnees.
The biggest star might be a sophomore, though. Likely struggled at times but showed glimpses of his four-star potential. He made 4.5 tackles for loss, a good number for any cornerback, much less a small freshman. Plus, he defensed a team-leading seven passes.
The pass defense will still probably be behind the run defense, but the breakdowns should diminish. And for whatever it's worth (probably not much), the secondary was the best unit in the spring game.
|Nathan Renfro||6'1, 205||Jr.||75||40.8||9||20||18||50.7%|
|Brad Craddock||6'0, 180||Jr.||69||61.5||12||1||17.4%|
|Brad Craddock||6'0, 180||Jr.||37-38||16-17||94.1%||5-8||62.5%|
|William Likely||KR||5'7, 175||So.||28||26.0||0|
|Stefon Diggs||KR||6'0, 195||Jr.||12||23.4||0|
|William Likely||PR||5'7, 175||So.||16||12.8||1|
|Stefon Diggs||PR||6'0, 195||Jr.||2||-0.5||0|
|Special Teams F/+||17|
|Field Goal Efficiency||43|
|Punt Return Efficiency||99|
|Kick Return Efficiency||6|
|Opponents' Field Goal Efficiency||112|
9. Great unit! Now cut down on the field goal attempts
Likely was also an immediate hit on special teams. His emergence will allow Maryland to use Stefon Diggs more sparingly in the return game, which can't be a bad thing.
Plus, there's not a lot of reason to think that an A+ coverage unit -- notice that Nathan Renfro's punting average and Brad Craddock's touchback rate on kickoffs were both pretty mediocre; then note that Maryland was top-40 in both kick and punt efficiency -- will regress to any major degree.
Throw in Craddock's return as place-kicker, and you've got a lovely unit overall. And if Craddock doesn't have to kick as many short field goals, Maryland's really in business.
2014 Schedule & Projection Factors
|6-Sep||at South Florida||86|
|1-Nov||at Penn State||37|
|Five-Year F/+ Rk||-5.0% (72)|
|Two-Year Recruiting Rk||43|
|TO Margin/Adj. TO Margin*||-7 / -9.5|
|Approx. Ret. Starters (Off. / Def.)||18 (9, 9)|
10. A top-40 team wins seven or eight games
Maryland football is in a pretty weird place overall. The negative feelings of the 2011 debacle (the Terps fell from 9-4 in Ralph Friedgen's last year to 2-10) and subsequent transfer fest have still lingered, and Randy Edsall appears to be on at least a little bit of a hot seat despite the wealth of injuries and two straight years of improvement.
Plus, the Terps face a conference slate that features Rutgers, Iowa, and Indiana instead of Wake Forest, Clemson, and NC State, and the ongoing ACC divorce has remained nasty. The Terps are in an unfamiliar new conference, and the roster has been constantly young and unfamiliar over the past two seasons.
On paper, though, there's quite a bit to like about the 2014 Terrapins. Injuries have produced depth of experience, and there are play-makers throughout the offensive skill positions and defensive front seven. The quarterback is experienced, the secondary is deeper than it was last year, and the offensive line has at least a little bit of upside. There are no clear, obvious holes, and with reasonable health (if that's even possible in College Park), Maryland could threaten to not only improve for a third straight year (that's almost a given), but improve by quite a bit.
They'll need to. The Big Ten was either really nice or mean to the Terps, giving them home games against Ohio State and Michigan State and road trips to Penn State, Michigan, and Wisconsin right out of the gates. A strong, top-40 caliber team might only go 7-5 without some bounces. But with a bounce or two and another road upset, a healthy Maryland team could threaten to reach 9-3. There is quite a bit of opportunity here, but now would not be a good time for another swath or injuries or any other causes for regression.