With the Maryland football team currently on their bye week, we decided to take a look at the season, and hand out an offensive report card.
The Terrapins have tallied a 2-4 record to this point, and are currently on a three-game winning streak with losses to Michigan, Ohio State, and West Virginia. They’ve had three quarterbacks play under center, and even fired coach Randy Edsall.
Let’s start on the offensive side of the football:
Am I being too lenient? Perhaps, but I’m not nearly as worried about the position as I was a week ago. Perry Hills started the first two games for the Terps, and while it wasn’t flashy, it wasn’t a total trainwreck like the Daxx Garman and Caleb Rowe experiments. Despite only throwing 91 passes this season, Rowe leads the FBS with 12 interceptions. The next closest is California’s Jared Goff, who has been picked nine times. However, Goff is also sixth in passing touchdowns (17), so it makes up for such a bad statistic.
Hills had a solid performance against No. 1 Ohio State last Saturday. Many thought that the team would just lay down with Edsall burning on the hot seat, but Hills led a fighting effort. Maryland threw everything at the Buckeyes, including cornerback Will Likely in the backfield. The Terps had the game tied at 21 in the second half, which no one expected. While Hills didn’t light the world on fire through the air, he did manage a career-high 170 yards on the ground, including a pair of touchdowns and a 75-yard scamper. When the play broke down, he didn’t try to force the ball like Rowe or take a sack like Garman. He used his feet, and made a play for his team. While he may not be C.J. Brown, he definitely gives people a reason to be a lot more optimistic about the offense.
Running Backs: B
One of Maryland’s biggest issues in 2014 was the consistency of the running game. After all, C.J. Brown led the team in rushing with 539 yards and eight touchdowns. From the start of the 2015 campaign, it was clear that this season would be very different. Senior Brandon Ross has been one of the few constants for the Terps so far. In six games, the Delaware native has carried the football 80 times for 431 yards (5.4 yards-per-carry) and a pair of touchdowns. If you look at Ross’ game logs, it’s not incredibly eye-popping, but he has registered a pair of 100-plus yard games and double-digit carries in four of those six contests.
Wes Brown and Ty Johnson also have chipped in with solid performance when they’ve been called upon. On the season, Brown and Johnson both are averaging 5.0 yards-per-carry, which is on par with Ross. Maryland is one of the better running teams in the Big Ten as they’re eighth with 177.7 rushing yards per contest. That mark has the Terps ahead of teams like Michigan State, Penn State, and Wisconsin. Even with the revolving door at the quarterback position, Maryland has been able to rely on the ground attack quite a bit. This certainly has to continue if the Terps want to build off of the Ohio State game and record wins throughout the second half of the season.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends: B
This may seem a little high of a grade to some, but considering the inconsistent play under center, Maryland’s wide receivers and tight ends have done an admirable job. There was a lot of talent to replace in 2015 due to the departures of Stefon Diggs, Deon Long, Marcus Leak, and Juwann Winfree. The Terps did get Levern Jacobs back from a season-long suspension and Taivon Jacobs back from a knee injury. Levern Jacobs currently leads Maryland in receptions (22) and receiving yards (222), while also being one of three players with two touchdown receptions. As was the case in previous seasons, Jacobs was more of a possession wideout than a deep threat. He has continued to help move the chains, and can act as a security blanket of sorts for Hills.
One of the biggest surprises has been the production of true freshman D.J. Moore. With a decent amount of depth at wide receiver, Moore wasn’t expected to be one of the focal points of the Maryland offense. However, the Imhotep (Pa.) product is second on the team in receptions (11) and receiving yards (193), and has become Maryland’s top downfield threat. Moore has blinding speed that allows him to blow by just about anybody as was evident when he burnt Ohio State’s Vonn Bell last Saturday. Much like Moore, Taivon Jacobs has been another deep threat for the Terps. The younger Jacobs has only recorded seven receptions for 127 yards, but one of those was a 70-yard touchdown against South Florida. Much like Moore, Jacobs relies on speed to do a lot of his damage. With deep threats like Jacobs and Moore on the perimeter, Maryland is able to keep defenses honest and force opposing teams to use safety help in pass coverage.
The tight end position was incredibly bleak last season because Maryland tight ends only caught six passes. Only six games into 2015, they have already doubled that production. Avery Edwards has been a great surprise for Mike Locksley‘s offense. Edwards has caught 10 passes for 107 yards and a pair of touchdowns up to this point while Derrick Hayward has caught two passes. Edwards’ best game came against South Florida when he hauled in three passes for 36 yards and two touchdowns. He has become a heavily-targeted player in the red zone, which is where both of his touchdown receptions have come. This is an extremely athletic tight end that Hills can depend upon this season.
Offensive line: B
Maryland’s offensive line has been one of the team’s strengths so far in 2015. The offensive line has only surrendered 10 sacks so far this season, and didn’t yield a single one through the first three games. This is very impressive because Maryland had a walk-on at one of the guard spots and both expected former five-star recruit starters on the bench to start the season. This is a mixture of youth and experience with the likes of Michael Dunn, Andrew Zeller, and now Damian Prince in the fold. As of right now, Prince is probably the weakest link as he has had his fair share of penalties, but he is only a few games into his collegiate career, so that’s to be expected. Maryland continues to heavily recruit the offensive line, and this is a group that has excelled so far. If this group continues to play at a high level, they’re be in great shape when Dwayne Haskins arrives next summer.