Maryland Football: Terps can make a statement against Texas

DETROIT, MI - DECEMBER 26: Ty Johnson #6 of the Maryland Terrapins runs for a short gain during the second quarter of the game against the Boston College Eagles at Ford Field on December 26, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - DECEMBER 26: Ty Johnson #6 of the Maryland Terrapins runs for a short gain during the second quarter of the game against the Boston College Eagles at Ford Field on December 26, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images) /

The Maryland football team is less than two months from beginning their 2017 season. In anticipation of the campaign getting underway, we’re going to take a closer look at each opponent with potential matchups to keep an eye on, series history, and what can be gained or lost with the outcome.

Texas is first up on the schedule for Maryland. It’s the first high-profile opponent that the Terrapins have opened with since facing Miami (Fla.) in the 2011 season opener.

Maryland has won their last seven season openers, including the last three by a margin of 154-41. Obviously, that’s par for the course when facing Division I-AA squads like the Terps have during that time.

In past years, it was almost guaranteed that Maryland would cruise to an unbeaten nonconference mark. Texas obviously throws a wrench in that type of thinking, but it could better prepare Maryland for their grueling Big Ten slate later in the season.

Let’s take a look at the Longhorns, who could be a very different group this coming fall.

Storylines to watch for Texas

  • Tom Herman impact – Texas hasn’t been the same since Mack Brown left back in 2013. Former Louisville coach Charlie Strong was thought to be “the guy,” but that turned into an era of mediocrity. Former Houston coach Tom Herman has the pedigree given his prior experience as an assistant at Ohio State and with the Cougars. He put together a 22-4 record during his two seasons at Houston, including a 13-1 mark in 2015.
  • Replacing D’Onta Foreman –

    The Longhorns have had many very talented tailbacks come through the program over the years. D’Onta Foreman may be one of the top options that Texas has had and he’ll likely be making an impact with the Houston Texans in the years to come. Foreman was an absolute game-changer for the Longhorns, but it may not be as difficult as many would think to replace his talent. Junior Chris Warren III was a top 100 prospect in the 2015 class and has home run potential. As a freshman, he broke the Texas freshman single-game rushing record with 276 yards against Texas Tech. Warren averaged 5.9 yards-per-carry and tallied 366 yards as the primary backup to Foreman in 2016.

  • Shane Buechele looking to build – Herman certainly inherited some issues with the Texas program, but he appears to have his quarterback of the future in sophomore Shane Buechele. As a freshman, Buechele completed 60.4 percent of his passes and tossed 21 touchdowns. He finished sixth in the Big 12 with 246.5 passing yards per contest and really proved that he can sling the ball down the field. If he picks up where he left off as a freshman, Buechele could be one of the more dangerous signal callers around.
  • Series History

    • Maryland and Texas have only faced each other three times in the past. The Terps are 0-3 against the Longhorns and have never scored a single point against them. The last meeting took place during the 1978 season when Maryland fell 42-0. The Terps actually finished 20th in the Associated Press poll with a 9-3 record that year, so the Longhorns were one of just a handful of teams that tripped them up.

    Potential matchups to watch

  • Maryland’s starting quarterback versus Texas’ pass rush – Obviously, this matchup will be a lot more clearer in September when Maryland’s quarterback competition wraps up. More likely than not, Caleb Henderson will beat out Tyrrell Pigrome for the starting gig based on reports from practices prior to the Red-White Spring Game. Henderson is more of a pro-style quarterback, which is what this offense may desperately need. Texas is certainly going to bring the heat off the edge. After all, this is a group that finished second in the Big 12 with 3.4 sacks-per-game and returns Malik Jefferson (6.5 sacks) and Breckyn Hager (6.0 sacks) from last year’s group. If Maryland’s offensive line can keep the signal caller upright, the Terps may be able to do some damage.
  • JC Jackson & Tino Ellis versus the Longhorn wideouts –

    Yes, Maryland did lose cornerback Will Likely to the NFL, but there’s plenty of talent still manning the secondary in College Park. JC Jackson and Tino Ellis both showed flashes on just how good they can be. Both players had at least three pass breakups and Jackson posted 40 tackles and an interception. Ellis should get more playing time with Likely and Alvin Hill having graduated. Jackson and Ellis won’t be facing any Longhorns that lit the world on fire last season, but the likes of Armanti Foreman and Devin Duvernay both had at least 400 receiving yards and three touchdowns. If Maryland can avoid the big play, that certainly could sway the game in their favor.

    • Can Maryland get pressure on Buechele? – Maryland hasn’t had a problem getting to the quarterback in recent years. The Terps finished third in the Big Ten with 2.8 sacks-per-game in 2016. This is a group that didn’t lose much talent from last year’s roster. Obviously, Buechele does possess the ability to climb in the pocket, but Maryland has plenty of speed off the edge in the likes of Jesse Aniebonam and Melvin Keihn among others.

    What’s to gain/lose for Maryland

    • What can the Terps gain? – There’s certainly quite a bit that Maryland can gain. Obviously, it’s been well documented how challenging Maryland’s schedule is going to be in 2017. Every game is going to be extremely important in terms of reaching the six-win mark that’s required for bowl eligibility. Getting a victory over Texas to start off the season would send a message to the Big Ten that this is a different Maryland program. It would also make an even bigger statement to recruits. One that could push the Terps into the stratosphere of college football’s elite when it comes to the recruiting trail. Simply put: Maryland has a chance to make a statement to the nation.

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    • What can the Terps stand to lose? – Honestly, there’s not a whole lot that Maryland has to lose in this one. If the Terps fall, many Big Ten and national folks alike will just see it as another instance where Maryland came up short against a marquee opponent. After all, Maryland was held to just six total points in 50-point losses to Michigan and Ohio State last year. There’s a ton more to gain than there is to lose against Texas.