Terps Football: 5 Thoughts Before Maryland/Minnesota
Opponent: #17 Minnesota Golden Gophers (7-0, 4-0 Big Ten Conference)
Location: TCF Bank Stadium (50,805)
Date: Saturday, October 26, 2019
Time: 3:30 PM ET
TV/Radio Broadcasts: ESPN, Maryland Sports Radio Network
Series Record: 3-1 Maryland
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Following another disappointing loss, the Terrapins will head back on the road for the third time in four weeks. This time they’ll face the red-hot Golden Gophers, who have yet to lose a game this season. Head coach P.J. Fleck’s squad is firing on all cylinders in his third year at the helm, featuring an explosive offense led by sophomore quarterback Tanner Morgan, senior running back Rodney Smith, and a very talented group of wide receivers. Realistically, Maryland’s hopes at a bowl berth are all but gone, with the focus of 2019 quickly turning to development and growth over wins.
1. Another Week, Another Loss
While Maryland’s loss to Indiana last weekend wasn’t a blowout like their loss to Purdue, it was nevertheless disappointing. Driving late in the fourth quarter with a chance to win, quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome made a very poor throw into triple-coverage that resulted in a game-ending interception for the Hoosiers. Defensive coordinator Jon Hoke’s unit rebounded from a bad start to have a fairly solid game, and the team’s offense seemed to be back to its explosive ways. Unfortunately, it simply wasn’t enough in the end and resulted in the Terrapins’ fourth loss of 2019.
2. Kudos To Javon Leake…
One of only two healthy running backs on the roster, Leake had a monster game against the Hoosiers. He carried the ball 23 times for 158 yards and 2 touchdowns, seemingly finding holes even when they didn’t exist. His day was highlighted by a 60-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter that tied the game at 14. While it wasn’t expected that he’d leave early for the NFL when the season began, the likelihood of that happening will grow with each performance like this. Kudos should also be given to former running backs coach Anthony Tucker, who recruited Leake as a 3-star prospect from the state of Georgia.
3. …And To Chance Campbell
While watching last weekend’s game from the stands of Capital One Field at Maryland Stadium, Campbell seemed to be involved in every defensive and special teams play. He led the team in tackles with 10, including a tackle for loss and two pass deflections. Flying sideline to sideline, he more than made up for the loss of fellow inside linebacker Isaiah Davis, who was ejected for targeting early in the game. Once again, kudos must also be given to former cornerbacks coach Aazaar Abdul-Rahim, who recruited Campbell as a 3-star prospect from Calvert Hall College High School in Towson, Maryland.
4. Re-Evaluating Goals Moving Forward
With the 2019 season going downhill fast and the toughest part of the team’s schedule still to come, it’s likely time to re-evaluate some of the goals for the rest of the year. The primary goal should probably be to find your quarterback for the 2020 season. Whether it be Pigrome or Josh Jackson, who is set to return soon from an ankle sprain, or one of the freshmen (Tyler DeSue or Lance LeGendre), head coach Michael Locksley would do well to find his guy heading into the offseason.
Additionally, it’d be good to see development on the defensive side of the ball. Too many big plays and blown coverages have plagued Hoke’s unit so far this season, so tightening things up and developing some of the defense’s younger players should also be a goal over the course of the second half of 2019.
5. Taking An Early Look At 2020
On the offensive side of the ball, there projects to be plenty of continuity across every position. All three starting wide receivers and all five starting offensive linemen should return, along with all of the quarterbacks on the roster. There is a chance that one of McFarland, Jr. or Leake leave early for the NFL, but both leaving seems unlikely. The team will gain two very talented freshmen running backs in Ebony Jackson and Peny Boone.
Defensively, the team will be hurt by the departures of graduate transfer outside linebackers Keandre Jones and Shaq Smith. There also looks to be concerns once again regarding defensive line depth. Cornerback Tino Ellis will likely apply for a medical hardship waiver to the NCAA, but after playing more than four games this season it’s far from a sure thing that he’ll play another game in a Maryland uniform. With fellow starting cornerback Marcus Lewis set to graduate, it’s another position that will have some depth concerns. Incoming freshmen Rashad Battle and Tarheeb Still will help to provide depth, but it’ll be a young and inexperienced unit nonetheless.
2020’s schedule won’t be easy, with games outside of the East Division coming against Minnesota, Northwestern, and Wisconsin. There’s also a road trip to Morgantown for the team’s first game against West Virginia since 2015.
Zack is a financial analyst for a defense contractor in Washington, DC. The Owings Mills native focuses most of his efforts on Maryland Football recruiting and individual coach and player pieces; but also covers Terps Basketball. He has established relationships with Big Ten beat reporters across the conference, which he utilizes in his game previews. Now a Sr. Terps Analyst for BSL, Zack can be reached at: [email protected]