Hey there. As you’re aware if you’re reading this article, we’ve been counting down the days and weeks until the beginning of the Iowa football season and previewing each of Iowa’s opponents in 2020. Welp, the Big Ten has announced that fall sports will not happen, and there’s “hope” that a season will be played in the spring.
Will the spring season actually happen? If I were a betting blogger, I’d invest my entire life savings on ‘No!’ and that other conferences won’t be playing this fall either, despite their best wishes. Or maybe they will? Or maybe the Big Ten and the PAC-12 will play in the spring when everyone else is playing in the fall? Nobody knows!
Regardless, we’re already here, blogging away about Iowa’s opponents for the upcoming season, and we’re gonna need a lot of content to fill these months, so we’ll keep on keeping on. Just note, we are assuming at this point that these games will get played, and that the rosters in the spring will be the same as the fall. Will that come true? Probably not! But who cares?
This week we’re previewing the Maryland Terrapins, who are looking to rebound in 2020 after a promising 2-0 start in 2019 culminated in a 3-9 season.
2019 Record: 3-9 (1-8), 6th in Big Ten East
If you somehow only watched the first two weeks of the 2019 college football season and also only happened to watch the Maryland Terrapins, you’d think you witnessed the birth of one of the greatest offensive teams...ever?
The Terrapins obliterated their opponents by scoring 142 points in their first two games, a 79-0 win against Howard and a 63-20 win against No. 21 ranked Syracuse in Mike Locksley’s first season as head coach. A 20-17 loss at Temple was disappointing but not out of the question. And then...things got bad. Maryland lost 59-0 to No. 12 Penn State, blew out Rutgers, 48-7, and didn’t score more than 28 points again for the rest of the season, ending with a 3-9 record.
Thankfully, the Terrapins return a lot of players from last season, all of whom are hoping to redeem themselves after a dismal 2019 campaign.
The Terrapins return pretty much everyone on offense from 2019 except at running back. Javon Leake has graduated after leading the team in rushing last season with 736 yards and 8 touchdowns, along with second-leading rusher Anthony McFarland Jr, who tallied 614 yards and 8 touchdowns.
Defensively, it’s a bit of a different story. The biggest losses for Maryland defensively come from the departure of Marcus Lewis, Tino Ellis and Antoine Brooks Jr., the team’s starting corners. The defensive line also saw a lot of loss due to graduation, and will be greatly assisted by community college transfers Mosiah Nasil-Kite and Ami Finau.
They key for success for Maryland — whenever Big Ten Football gets played again — will rest in the offseason progress of its numerous returners on both sides of the ball. While losing its top two running backs, the Terps still return most of their other starters from 2019.
A key component will be deciding who will be under center. Josh Jackson, a transfer from Virginia Tech, put up some great numbers in the beginning of the season and tallied 1,274 yards and 12 touchdowns last season, but was inconsistent. A competition was expected in the spring for the starting position between Jackson, Tyler DeSue and Lance DeGendre, who all received snaps last season.
Whoever lines up at quarterback will be throwing to Dontay Demus Jr., who tallied 625 yards and 6 touchdowns on 41 receptions last season, along with DJ Turner, who is returning from injury. Joining him in returning from injury will be Jeshaun Jones, a standout in 2018, as well, along with receivers Darryl Jones and Carlos Carriere. Tight end Chigoziem Okonkwo figures to be a target for QB1 as well. And while the team lost running backs, it will feature a veteran offensive line at tackle and center and talent behind the line as well, mainly Tayon Fleet-Davis, who logged 265 yards for an average of 4.2 per possession last season.
Defensively, the Terps also return plenty of starters from 2019, too, but will need to see improvement in every area after being one of the worst defenses in the conference. Ayinde Ele ranked 12th in the conference in tackles last season; he and defensive lineman Nick Cross will highlight the Terrapin defense. Many other starters return at linebacker, too, but again, the team will need noticeable improvement if it wants to avoid a repeat of 2019.
The team also returns starters at special teams with kicker Joseph Petrino heading into his third season, and the team will hope to find consistency at punter from either Colton Spangler or Anthony Pecorella, who traded punts last season.
There’s enough experienced talent across both sides of the ball for Maryland to be improved in...whatever the next season of football is, but a lot of that will ride on improvement defensively and consistency at quarterback from whoever earns the starting position.
However, if the 10-game, conference only schedule happens, I’d guess Maryland will be in for another tough season, with the only on-paper likely wins coming against Rutgers, Northwestern and maybe Indiana and Michigan State. Otherwise, I don’t know how the Terps pull off wins with a schedule rounded out by Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, Penn State, Ohio State and Minnesota. Oof.
We don’t know if this one will remain on the revised-revised schedule after being added a week before the fall season was pushed off entirely. If it is played, this game might be a but of a toss-up, but I think Iowa has enough difference in talent on both sides of the ball to pull off a close win.
Iowa 24, Maryland 21