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.
After facing Texas, Maryland will get a reprieve of sorts as Towson comes to College Park for just the second time in history.
If the Terrapins do end up falling to the Longhorns, there may be even more pressure to win this game against the Tigers. Towson will be coming off a game with local rival Morgan State.
It’ll be interesting to keep an eye on where the quarterback battle is heading into the second game. It may be Caleb Henderson, Tyrrell Pigrome, or maybe even true freshman Kasim Hill.
Let’s take a look at the Tigers, who are coming off a 4-7 record in 2016.
Storylines to watch for Towson
- Trying to bounce back from a losing season – As was mentioned above, Towson is coming off a 4-7 season, but did win their final three games. The Tigers topped CAA foes Elon (23-6), William & Mary (34-24), and Rhode Island (32-31). South Florida was the only Division I team on their schedule and Towson fell 56-20 in their season opener. Towson has a huge rivalry game against Morgan State before facing Maryland, so if they’re coming off a win, they could be more motivated as they arrive in College Park.
- More quarterback production in 2017 – Morgan Mahalak will most likely be the starting quarterback when September rolls around. You wouldn’t expect a former four-star signal caller to be at Towson, but it’s been a strange road for Mahalak. He originally signed with Oregon and was expected to be the heir apparent to current Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota. However, that plan didn’t come to fruition as the Ducks went in different directions under center. Mahalak played in five games in 2016 and was solid in limited action. The California native completed 54 percent of his passes while tossing four touchdowns. The redshirt junior is very mobile and can really climb in the pocket and extend plays. If the offensive line gives him time, he definitely has the ability to do a ton of damage.
- There really isn’t much history when it comes to Maryland and Towson. The teams have only played one other time, which came back in 2011. The Terps defeated the Tigers 28-3 in College Park thanks to a pair of touchdown passes from Danny O’Brien. D.J. Adams and Justus Pickett each added a touchdown run in the victory.
Potential matchups to watch
- Shane Simpson vs. the Maryland front seven – This may be the most interesting matchup between these two teams. Shane Simpson wasn’t recruited by Power Five schools, but the talent is undeniable. Simpson hits the hole hard and if he sees a crease, he can take it to the house. The former Easton (Pa.) standout rushed for 819 yards and averaged 5.6 yards-per-carry as he led the Tigers in rushing. Simpson is a back with a ton of speed, so Maryland’s front seven will certainly be tested. The Terps return most of their talent up front, but Simpson is going to be one of the more underrated backs that they’ll face all season.
- Inexperienced wideouts vs. Maryland secondary – Towson lost their top two receivers from a season ago. Andre Dessenberg and Christian Summers combined for 1,742 yards and eight touchdowns, so it’s safe to say that Mahalak lost two very talented playmakers. Sam Gallahan caught 22 passes for 212 yards and a touchdown as the team’s third-leading receiver. After that, the next returning wideout is Trey Kilgore, who was eighth in receiving with just five receptions last season. It’s safe to say that Maryland’s secondary could have a very strong afternoon with this inexperienced group. It wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see J.C. Jackson and company have multiple interceptions and pass breakups in this game.
- Maryland ground attack vs. Towson front seven – There’s not going to be many teams on Maryland’s schedule that will be able to slow down their rushing attack. Ty Johnson and Lorenzo Harrison are two differing styles of running backs, but are both very lethal. Sprinkle freshman Anthony McFarland, who could very well see the field, and you have a recipe for wearing opposing teams down. The Tigers finished in the middle of the pack of the CAA in terms of defending the run. Towson surrendered just 4.0 yards-per-carry, which is most definitely a decent mark. However, the Tigers gave up 161.8 yards a game, which doesn’t bode well for their chances against Maryland. Johnson could very well have a field day with the Towson defense, especially if he gets into the open field.
- Jacquille Veii – Veii played his first two collegiate seasons in College Park before electing to transfer out of the program. Ironically, he ended up at closeby Towson where he led the Tigers in receiving with 44 receptions for 505 yards. However, he ended up transferring back to Maryland and has one final year of eligibility. Veii will have an opportunity to play against his former team and make an impact that will remind both why they recruited him to their school. With Levern Jacobs and Teldrick being gone, Veii certainly has a chance to be one of the Terps’ top receiving options this fall.
What’s to gain/lose for Maryland?
- What can the Terps gain? – Honestly, there isn’t a ton to gain from beating a team like Towson. The hope is that Maryland will impose their will and win the game by at least three touchdowns. Mahalak is a good quarterback, so Towson may hang around. This could be a chance to the Terps’ defense to really get after it. The pass rush has a chance to shine against a high caliber quarterback, which could benefit them during conference play.
- What can the Terps stand to lose? – Obviously, an upset at the hands of Towson would be disastrous for Maryland. This is the type of opponent that the Terps have dominated in recent years. They did so against Howard in 2016 and Richmond in 2015. It’s hard to imagine D.J. Durkin letting his guys downplay a team like Towson. This is one that Maryland should dominate throughout.