Maryland football is back? Can you be back if you were never here in the first place? (UM did win a National Title in 1953 but that is neither here nor there). Either way, The Terps are no longer a cakewalk opponent in college football.
Following six straight losing seasons, Maryland finished above .500 in 2021 for the first time since 2014, UM’s first year in the Big 10, finishing with a 7-6 record following a dominant 54-10 victory over Virginia Tech in the Pinstripe Bowl - its first bowl victory since 2010.
Maryland defeated Virginia Tech 54-10 at Yankee Stadium to grab its first bowl win since 2010
Photo: Associated Press
Entering 2022, the team looks to build upon its previous success. Head Coach Mike Locksley enters year four in charge and a favorable schedule in the Big Ten’s east division, generally dominated by Ohio State.
So how The Terps and its fans measure success is important. The team hasn’t won a conference title since 2001 and that was when they were in the ACC. The Big Ten is more difficult and teams like Ohio State, Penn State and Michigan are on the schedule every year.
The goal in 2022 for Terps fans is simple: Exceed the 7 wins from a year ago and stay in the hunt for the Big Ten East as long as possible. With a favorable schedule early that gets tougher as the season goes on, this is not out of the realm of possibility.
It would also help to close the gap to what I’ll call “the big 4” in the Big Ten East - Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State and Penn State. Maryland lost to these four teams by a combined 126 points, including 40+ point losses against Ohio State and Michigan. If the Terps can lower that number significantly or even grab an upset win over one of them, that would show dramatic improvement.
Nuts & Bolts:
-Head Coach: Mike Locksley (13-18) enters year four in charge of the Maryland football program. Locksley, a D.C. native, was hired after a stint as the offensive coordinator at Alabama and previously served as the Terps interim head coach in 2015.
-National Titles: 1 (1953)
-Conference Titles: 11 (Last: 2001)
-2021 Record: Overall, 7-6, 3-6 in Big 10 Conference
-2021 Bowl Win: 54-10 over Virginia Tech in Pinstripe Bowl
-2022 Schedule HERE
Last year's Maryland offense was potent against lower competition and stalled against the Big Ten’s best. Maryland scored an average of 40 points per game in wins and an average of 16.6 points per game in losses. They’ll need to be more consistent offensively in order to take the next step.
Quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa will lead the Maryland offense following an impressive 2021 campaign
Photo: Athlon Sports
Quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa is the younger brother of Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and will lead the Maryland offense for the third consecutive year. The Terps QB threw for nearly 4,000 yards and 26 touchdowns last year and has his entire offensive line returning.
The passing attack also will have the addition of Jacob Copeland, a transfer from Florida. Copeland had 85 receptions and scored 9 touchdowns in three seasons with the Gators. Tagovailoa also has his leading receiver back in Rakim Jarrett, who caught 62 passes a season ago.
The offense no longer has its 2021 lead rusher, however, in Tayon Fleet-Davis and also will head into 2022 without star tight end Chigoziem Okonkwo, who is now a Baltimore Raven.
With head coach Mike Locksley being an offensive mind, the Terps offense will likely be the reason the team finds success or failure in 2022.
The defense performed similarly to the offense a year ago in terms of playing well against lower competition and struggling against the Big Ten’s best teams.
Maryland’s defensive unit struggled to force turnovers and finished 12th in total defense in a conference with 14 teams.
Defensive back Nick Cross is now an Indianapolis Colt and was one of only two Maryland players to come away with an interception in 2021. The other, Jackorian Bennett, a cornerback, will need to be one of the core leaders for the Terps defense if they want to take that next step in 2022.
This Maryland team will not be boring and will be worth watching for the offense alone. Most games in 2021 were high-scoring affairs and expect 2022 to be no different.
Head Coach Mike Locksley will want to build off the program's best season in a decade in 2022
I like Tagovailoa to be one of the best quarterbacks in the Big Ten and a VERY early season candidate for the Heisman Trophy simply because he’ll put up ridiculous numbers in the first three games against Buffalo, Charlotte and SMU. I’m talking 10+ touchdowns and over 1,000 yards in the first three weeks.
Overall, I have Maryland putting up better numbers on offense this year but winning one less game, finishing with a 5-7 record and just missing out on a bowl game. Wins come against Buffalo, Charlotte, SMU and Purdue with a five game losing streak built in before the final victory over Rutgers.