Football

Speed Option: Maryland Terrapins

To say that this series has been heavily tilted to Ohio State would be an understatement, and that is even taking into account the overtime win in College Park (Md.) back in 2018.

Ohio State is averaging better than 59 points per game on offense in the previous seven matchups against the Terps while Maryland is just slightly better than 21 points per game. That would be a 38-point margin and that is hard to look past over the history of this series.

After coming oh-so-close in 2018, the games have been rough for the Terps with Ohio State putting up 73 and 66 points in the last two meetings and it just seems as If everything clicks for the Buckeyes when these two teams meet (more or less).

Last year saw the Terps break .500 under Mike Locksley as the team would go 7-6 on the year but only 3-6 in conference play. Those league wins were games that the Terps should have won with Illinois, Indiana and Rutgers taking the L. But the Terps did finish on a strong note with a 54-10 trouncing of Virginia Tech in the Pinstripe Bowl.

Is this Maryland team a team that is on the rise or is it more of the same? Let’s call the Speed Option and see.

Maryland

All-time Series Record: Ohio State leads 7-0-0

Last Meeting: 2021 – Ohio State def. Maryland 66-17

2021 Record: 7-6, 3-6 Big Ten Conference

Returning Starters: 16 (9 Off., 7 Def.)

Head Coach: Mike Locksley

Offense

Total Offense: 441.0 YPG (32nd)

Rushing Offense: 136.4 YPG (91st)

Passing Offense: 304.6 YPG (13th)

Scoring Offense: 29.3 PPG (57th)

Quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa has shown moments where he has been a real problem for opposing defenses and then at other points, he has been his own worst enemy, like the Iowa game where he completed 55-percent of his passes and completed 18 attempts while throwing five interceptions. His consistency is still not there but you then can look at a game like Virginia Tech where he goes 20-24 for a couple of scores and picks up 42 yards on the ground to boot.

The Terps have a sneaky good receiver corps, but it is just a matter of keeping everyone healthy and productive. We know what Rakim Jarrett is about, and he is going to be the No. 1 receiver but don’t sleep on Dontay Demus, who only played five games last season before being lost. Jacob Copeland comes in from Florida and creates another opportunity in the throw game as someone who has flashed at moments but has not been able to put it together yet. A change of scenery might be just what the doctor ordered.

This is going to be a passing team; the running game is there just to keep teams honest. Tayon Fleet-Davis is gone and that leaves young backs Colby McDonald and Challen Faamatau who combined for 116 carries last season for 560 yards and five scores. One or both may have some big games along the way against lesser competition, but it would be surprising to see Maryland keep it on the ground when their offense is much better suited for the passing game.

Defense

Total Defense: 404.3 YPG (85th)

Rushing Defense: 154.8 YPG (70th)

Passing Defense: 249.5 YPG (99th)

Scoring Defense: 30.7 PPG (98th)

The Maryland defense played well against weaker foes and not so well against equal and better teams. The main stat categories all reside in the bottom third of Division 1-FBS and when you take an early look at the squad, where does the improvement come from?

Maryland has to get a better pass rush, has to keep teams from settling in and getting into a groove. If it were only that easy.

So, the Terps need more from the defensive line but that can also be said about from the secondary and really each and every position. The Terps had two interceptions over the course of the final 10 games of the season, a hard stat to even really begin to understand. So, with no sudden changes, no short fields or extra possessions, better teams would just be able to exert their will on the Terps and that is how you end up with a team that gives up nearly 31 points per game and gives up 59 to Michigan, 66 to Ohio State and 51 to Iowa.

Random Musings

It has always been “if Maryland can keep kids home, they might be able to compete”. The Terps have managed to recruit the state of Maryland and the DMV (DC, Maryland, Virginia) area well under Mike Locksley, but in 2023 the Terps have zero members of the top-10 from within the state (six of 10 already committed). 2022 saw the Terps land two of 10 from the top-10 list while 2021 only saw one. Maryland has to do a better job of recruiting its home state and quit watching top players leave if the Terps ever want to be competitive in the conference. Any conference.