The Maryland football team hasn’t exactly lit the world on fire from a defensive standpoint.
In Monday’s Quick Lane Bowl, the secondary is going to need to step up against Boston College.
Maryland’s pass defense was among the worst in the Big Ten. The Terps surrendered 215.8 passing yards per game and opposing quarterbacks have completed 56.6 percent of their passes.
The secondary was expected to be one of the biggest strengths on Maryland’s roster entering the 2016 season. However, star cornerback Will Likely tore his ACL in October and missed the final six games of the year.
In the six games he did play, Likely registered 32 tackles (22 solo), three defended passes, and one sack. The former Belle Glade (Fla.) standout also forced a fumble and recovered one against Penn State on Oct. 8.
Likely’s injury was something that Maryland obviously didn’t want, but they were prepared to handle it. Early in the season, Darnell Savage was moved to safety and started at that spot for the majority of the year.
Alvin Hill lined up at one of the cornerback slots while J.C. Jackson occupied the other. RaVon Davis and Tino Ellis served as the primary backups and even started in the absence of Jackson on multiple occasions.
Savage and Hill ended up finishing third and fourth on the team respectively in tackles.
Hill also led the team in interceptions (two), but the Terps only recorded four throughout the entire season. Maryland finished last in the Big Ten in that category.
As a team, Maryland did show flashes of solid play throughout the bulk of the season. Obviously, the Michigan and Ohio State games were abysmal and showed how talented those two offenses are.
If you take out those contests, the most passing yards that the Terps surrendered was 236 against Indiana. That was in a 42-36 loss in which the Hoosiers rushed for a mind-numbing 414 yards on the ground of six touchdowns.
Indiana did accumulate 34 first downs, which was a season-high. The Hoosiers actually finished the regular season as the second-best passing offense in the conference with 277.9 yards-per-game.
Maryland gave up 7.0 passing yards per play this year, but that wasn’t the worst in the Big Ten. Illinois, Michigan State, Purdue, and Rutgers all gave up an average of more passing yards than the Terps.
None of those four teams got to the quarterback as much as Maryland did. The Terps registered 32 sacks, which came out to a 2.7 per contest (fourth in the Big Ten).
Despite a high sack rate, the Terps really struggled to get turnovers. Maryland recovered six fumbles this season and combined that with the four interceptions and it’s a team that forced just 10 turnovers the entire year.
Boston College is a team that doesn’t exactly possess a lethal offense. Kentucky quarterback transfer Patrick Towles threw 10 touchdown passes this season, but also tossed six interceptions.
Maryland has the front seven to get pressure on Towles in early downs. The Terps are going to have to face the Eagles into third down and long situations, which is where the secondary needs to shine.
The talent is clearly there even without the presence of Likely. Hill and Jackson are two very productive corners that should be able to more than hold their own against a lackluster Boston College group of pass catchers.
When it comes down to it, the secondary could be the biggest factor in this game not named Perry Hills.