If there’s good news for Maryland football coach Mike Locksley, it’s that he put together the largest single-season win total of his head coaching career in his first full season guiding the Terrapins.
That good news, though, only goes so far. The Terps finished 3-9 in 2019, marking the first time Locksley has ever won more than one game in a season. He has six career wins, and Maryland’s total from last season is half of them.
But one place Locksley has been successful is the recruiting trail. The Terps hope his eye for talent will help the team climb the Big Ten’s ladder sooner rather than later. Maryland links up with West Virginia University’s football team for the third game of the season, scheduled for Sept. 19 at Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown.
Offensively, Locksley and staff is trying to clean up a mess. He brought in two new co-offensive coordinators, Scottie Montgomery and Joker Phillips, to try to pull it off. They have plenty of work to do.
Maryland finished last season tied for 93rd in the Football Bowl Subdivision scoring 25.3 points per game. That average was propped up by gaudy numbers in the Terps’ three wins — 79 points against Howard, 63 against Syracuse and 48 against Rutgers. In the nine losses? Maryland scored more than 17 points just once, was shut out by Penn State and mustered just one touchdown against both Michigan and Nebraska.
Quarterback is an issue. Last year’s most prolific, Josh Jackson, threw for 1,274 yards and 12 touchdowns against six interceptions, yet he completed just 47.3 percent of his passes. Help might be on the way from Alabama transfer Taulia Tagovailoa, younger brother of new Miami Dolphin Tua, but it is not yet known if he’ll be immediately eligible.
Whoever starts under center will get some help from Maryland’s receivers. Top target Dontay Demus (41 receptions, 635 yards, six touchdowns in 2019) returns and the Terrapins signed five-star recruit Rakim Jarrett, who was the No. 4 receiver in the 2020 signing class.
The running back room needs to be rebuilt, though. Javon Leake and Anthony McFarland both left for the NFL, and the two combined for 1,350 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns last year. Leake was also named Big Ten Specialist of the Year.
Former Michigan running back Jordan Castleberry is transferring in, and the Terps were able to sign four-star back Peny Boone.
As bad as Maryland’s offense was, its defense was worse. The Terps ranked 115th in the FBS last season in allowing 34.7 points per game. That included giving up 52 points to Minnesota, 54 to Nebraska, 59 to Penn State and 73 to Ohio State.
The Terrapins must find new generators for their pass rush. Their top three sack producers have graduated. Linebacker Keandre Jones led the team with seven, while defensive lineman Brett Kulka added two and defensive lineman Keiron Howard had 1½. Maryland signed a trio of three-star junior college defensive linemen to help make up for it.
In the linebacker corps, Maryland returns the team’s second-leading tackler, Ayinde Eley, who recorded 79 tackles, four for a loss, as well as Chance Campbell, who racked up 54 tackles, 4½ for a loss. Maryland also signed four-star linebacker Reuben Hyppolite, who was the No. 17-ranked outside linebacker nationally.
The secondary must find a replacement for All-Big Ten second-team safety Antoine Brooks, who led Maryland with 87 tackles and was second on the team with 8½ tackles for a loss. That could be Nick Cross, who was honorable mention all-conference with 45 tackles, five pass breakups and and two interceptions.
If anything could be working in Maryland’s favor, it’s that the Terrapins will prepare for their WVU matchup against Towson (7-5 last season in the Football Championship Subdivision) and Northern Illinois (5-7 last season), while WVU gets Florida State in the first week.