BLOOMINGTON — Through the first month of the 2019 season, Maryland appeared headed for faster than expected success under first-year coach Mike Locksley.
The Terrapins scored a whopping 142 points in their first two games and upset Syracuse 63-20 to earn a brief stay in the AP Top 25. Back-to-back losses against Temple and Penn State followed, but a 48-7 thrashing of Rutgers put Maryland at 3-2 heading into to teeth of its Big Ten schedule.
Injuries eventually took their toll. Maryland lost its final seven games to finish 3-9. Josh Jackson, the transfer quarterback from Virginia Tech who keyed Maryland’s early success, was unable to stay healthy. Backup quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome struggled, throwing three touchdowns to six interceptions. Maryland scored 20 or more points just once in its final seven games, in a 34-28 loss to Indiana, after a promising offensive start.
Keeping Jackson healthy will be one of the keys to Maryland’s 2020 season. So will finding a way to control the clock after the Terrapins finished last in the Big Ten in time of possession (25:45).
Locksley is building momentum in recruiting, bringing the 31st-ranked class in the country to Maryland in 2020. So far, Maryland’s 2021 class is ranked 16th nationally. Locksley made headlines this offseason by landing Alabama transfer quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa, the younger brother of former Tide standout quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. The younger Tagovailoa won’t be eligible until the 2021 season but could develop into Maryland’s quarterback of the future.
“We started this process with being real transparent about where our program is today,” Locksley said in a recent ESPN college football podcast. “Much like everything else out there, I also have solutions and answers for how we’re going to get there. We told them where we want to take the program, and then what we’ll tell them is how we’re going to get it there .”
Here’s an early outlook for Maryland heading into the 2020 season:
WHAT THEY LOST
Running back Javon Leake was a standout both on offense and special teams for the Terrapins last season, rushing for 736 yards on 7.2 yards per carry with eight TDs while averaging 26.8 yards per kick return with two returns for TDs. Anthony McFarland Jr. was another top rushing threat for Maryland with 614 yards on 5.2 yards per carry and eight TDs. On defense, defensive back Antoine Brooks had a team-high 85 tackles, including 8.5 tackles for loss, one interception and five passes defended.
NEWCOMERS TO WATCHIncoming freshman wide receiver Rakim Jarrett, who flipped his commitment from LSU to Maryland on National Signing Day in December, is a five-star talent and could give the Terrapins a deep threat in the offense this season. Bruising freshman running back Peny Boone (6-foot-2, 231 pounds) and speedy freshman running back Isaiah Jacobs should help replace some of the production in the run game lost with the departures of Leake and McFarland.
PROSPECTS FOR 2020
Maryland needs to continue to develop depth to avoid a late-season swoon similar to last season when injuries mounted. It’s tough to move up in the Big Ten East, but Locksley is trying to develop younger players who fit his system. It likely won’t pay dividends this season, but Maryland appears to be on the right track for future success.