Written By T.J. Inman (@TJHoosierHuddle)
Week 11: Maryland Terrapins
Heading into the Maryland game, the season could be in a wide range of places. It’s certainly possible that the Hoosier have five games and they are playing the Terps for a chance to become bowl-eligible. It’s also certainly possible that they only have four wins and need to knock off both Maryland and Purdue to secure six wins. A pessimist could definitely envision a scenario in which IU has already been eliminated from bowl contention and this game is meaningless but we aren’t going to consider that possibility and wallow in misery until we have to. With that said, it’s safe to say we expect this to be a very important game. The Hoosiers will have to play much better than they did against Maryland in 2014. IU fell to the Terps 37-15 (and it wasn’t even that close) and handed Maryland their first B1G victory. This game will come at a tough time for Randy Edsall’s club as they will be coming off of back-to-back contests against brutish opposition in Wisconsin and Michigan State.
Week 11: Maryland
Time & Date: November 21, 2015 - TBA
Venue: Byrd Stadium (College Park, MD)
Terrapins at a Glance:
Head Coach: Randy Edsall (5th season, 20-30 at Maryland and 94-100 overall)
Last Season: 7-6 (4-4 in B1G)
Terrapins Returning Leaders:
Passing: Caleb Rowe (63%, 489 yards, 5 TD, 4 INT)
Rushing: Brandon Ross (85 rushes for 419 yards)
Receiving: Amba Etta-Tawo (10 catches for 222 yards)
Lindy’s: 6th in the Big Ten East
Sporting News: 5th in the Big Ten East
Phil Steele: 4th in the Big Ten East
Athlon's: 5th in the Big Ten East
Why the Terrapins could win
Maryland figures to be a decidedly decent team. They don’t have many things that stand out as major red flags (although there are one or two large concerns) and they don’t have a whole lot of things you would point to as great strengths (again though, there are a couple of individuals that stand out). At best, the Terps figure to be a solid squad that manages to beat some weak opposition (Richmond, Bowling Green and South Florida), steal a couple of toss-up games and get to six wins. IU qualifies as a toss-up game and winning this one will be key for the Terrapins postseason hopes. The Terps will take confidence from last season’s pasting of IU and I suppose analysis of this game should start there. Maryland beat IU by 22 and the Hoosiers are now without Tevin Coleman. The average UMD fan will probably feel pretty good about their chances. Beyond intangible things that occurred last season, Maryland does have some things that should cause IU some problems. Caleb Rowe is expected to win the QB battle (Oklahoma State Daxx Garman and Perry Hills are threats to as well) and he has proven to be adequate. The best part of the offense is probably the offensive line as Maryland returns three starters and have a lot of well-regarded redshirt freshmen ready to provide good depth. While the receiving corps is very unproven, Amba Etta-Tawo and Levern Jacobs could prove to be a decent duo and if IU’s young secondary is struggling, Rowe is capable of distributing the ball to open targets.
On defense, Maryland has a potentially excellent secondary that is anchored by one of the best defensive backs in college football in William Likely. Anthony Nixon and A.J. Hendy are an experienced safety duo and the back of the defense should make things difficult for Nate Sudfeld and the IU passing game. The defense has to replace a lot but former rotation players Jermaine Carter Jr., Jalen Brooks and Cavon Walker provide some hope at LB and Yannick Ngakoue and Roman Braglio are dangerous pass rushers. Maryland has switched to a 4-3 scheme this season but by Week 11 the defenders should be plenty familiar with their new responsibilities. If this is a close game and special teams come into play, Maryland will have a massive advantage. Brad Craddock is one of the best kickers in college football and the Terps would feel really good about winning a close game if field goals came into play.
Why They Won’t Pull it Off:
While a case can be made for why the Terrapins will knock off the Hoosiers, an equally compelling one can be made for why IU can leave College Park with the “W”. Maryland returns less than 33% of their 2014 offensive production and only 50% of their 2014 tackles. The Terps are replacing every consequential receiver (Stefon Diggs, Deon Long, Marcus Leak, Jacquille Veil are all gone) they relied on last season and quarterback C.J. Brown graduated. Running backs Wes Brown and Brandon Ross return but neither of them were remotely prolific in 2014. The offensive line should be fine but it won’t be a standout unit and it should be a game where IU’s reformed pass rush has a chance to force Caleb Rowe from the pocket. IU’s secondary is very young and inexperienced but by the time this game rolls around, inexperience will no longer be a valid excuse and Maryland’s passing game doesn’t appear to be an attack that should instill much fear. The Terps were number 80 in passing yards and number 43 in S&P+’s passing rank in 2014 and they now are replacing every important part of that attack with less heralded players.
On defense, the secondary for Maryland is as good as I previously advertised. There’s no sugarcoating it, William Likely is a probable 1st round NFL draft pick and the rest of the unit is rock solid. That being said, the Terps are mostly starting over along the front seven. DT Andre Monroe is gone as is tackling-machine Cole Farrand. The Terps rode excellent play from those two to the number 42 ranked S&P+ defense. They now return only 45% of their tackles for loss, have a new defensive coordinator and are switching to a new 4-3 scheme. The pass rush should be solid with Ngakoue and Braglio but the strength of IU’s offensive line should offset that. IU probably won’t be able to have a ton of success through the air but the combination of IU’s excellent offensive line and the RB duo of Devine Redding and Jordan Howard should be able to pound the ball against Maryland’s new defense.
IU and Maryland are both likely to need a victory in this game to have realistic postseason aspirations. While Maryland knocked off IU convincingly in 2014, the two teams who take the field on November 21 will be vastly different squads and the previous year’s contest is unlikely to have any bearing on what we see in College Park. Maryland lost its quarterback, nearly every contributing receiver, two multi-year offensive starters and almost the entire front seven on defense. They return an excellent kicker, a promising pass rush, a couple of quarterbacks with legitimate experience and a few linebackers that might be able to adequately fill-in for Cole Farrand. You can easily see paint two very different pictures for Maryland (and if Under Armour has anything to say about it, the painting will be gaudy, have lots of colors and bold patterns and should come with a seizure warning). This game should have high-stakes and it should be close, here’s to hoping IU is in position to steal a win and to have it mean something more than just “revenge”.
IU Winning Percentage: 49%
We are now just days from the season opener! Hang in there everyone, football is coming. For more preseason content and the best IU football coverage, keep checking Hoosier Huddle.