The Maryland football team didn’t give their offense a short field to work with very often during the 2016 season.
In 2017, the defense is going to have to capitalize by getting a lot more turnovers.
The Terrapins only scored 25 points off turnovers throughout the entire 2016 campaign. Maryland only recorded five interceptions during their 13-game schedule.
Two of those interceptions came via cornerback Alvin Hill, who has since graduated from the program.
In addition, the Terps forced nine fumbles and recovered seven of them. Linebacker Jermaine Carter was the only Maryland player that forced multiple fumbles as he forced two last season.
In 2017, it’s likely going to come down to Maryland’s defensive backs making plays on the ball.
The Terps have one of the better pass rushes in the Big Ten and only lost Roman Braglio and Azubuike Ukandu from last year’s roster. In 2016, Maryland averaged 2.8 sacks-per-game, which only trailed Ohio State (3.5) and Penn State (2.9).
Getting pressure on the quarterback from guys like Jesse Aniebonam and Kingsley Opara could pay dividends for the secondary. Forcing Big Ten quarterbacks to get rid of the ball early will allow the likes of Denzel Conyers, Tino Ellis, J.C. Jackson, and Darnell Savage to potentially make breaks on the ball.
That group did account for 15 of the team’s 48 defended passes a season ago. Jackson led the Terps with seven defended passes, which is a big deal considering that Jackson will be one of the leaders in the secondary with Will Likely having graduated.
Jackson has great closing speed, which allows him to recover on plays even if he’s out of position. He’s also extremely physical and often can jar the ball free even when it looks like the opposing wide receiver to going to have a reception.
Maryland’s defense is going to need to set the offense up with a short field much more they did last season. It will allow the Terps to utilize the running game, which is one of the strongest in the conference.
If Maryland get more turnovers this time around, it’ll go a long way towards keeping them in games against some of the Big Ten’s more dangerous squads.