When you watch Maryland, it’s not hard to guess a coaching change is at least under consideration.
The Terrapins are in a transition on the defensive side of the ball, but the offense is pretty much in disarray. And the quarterback carousel is certainly a big part of the latter.
From following local media coverage during the spring and preseason, it was not hard to conclude there was a general feeling coach Randy Edsall picked the least talented of his three options, going with Perry Hills over Daxx Garman and Caleb Rowe.
The smart money was on Rowe, who had showed some flashes of ability in previous appearances but was limited in the spring by a knee injury. Garman did not arrive until the summer as a graduate transfer from Oklahoma State.
After Hills showed an unwillingness or inability to push the ball down the field and was generally ineffective in the first two games, Edsall went with Rowe, who hasn’t done anything to prove the coach was wrong to start someone else at the beginning of the season.
Rowe leads the country in interceptions despite only starting three games (he has played in all five). That is 12 picks on only 91 throws, an almost unbelievable stat. When not throwing the ball to the other team, Rowe has shown a live arm, but his decision-making is several steps below bad so far this season. That said, deep strikes are at least possible with him at the helm, and he has hit a few.
Garman is still a bit of a mystery as he hasn’t gotten many opportunities. He also seems to have a live arm at least.
The Maryland offense has a certain grab-bag feel to it. Execution is not good, but they have a handful of guys who could be playmakers.
The execution problem appears to be three-fold: None of the quarterbacks have played well, the offensive line is below average and they don’t seem to know what they want to be.
The third one probably affects the first one quite a bit.
You’ll see just about everything from the Maryland offense from three-receiver, shotgun sets to the I-formation. The running game is mostly zone based, and they will mix in the occasional option play for Rowe, who has the wheels to operate that and can keep plays alive as a scrambler.
Brandon Ross is a 5-10, 210-pound running back who brings a lot to the position. He looks and plays bigger than that, and he has good burst and decent vision. He can find a crease and exploit it. He is also a threat as a pass catcher out of the backfield. Backup Wes Brown is solid, and freshman Ty Johnson has flashed some potential as a change-of-pace back, averaging 5.5 yards per carry.
The Maryland receivers are talented but inconsistent. The Jacobs bothers — Levern and former Ohio State recruit Taivon — both have big-play availability, and true freshman D.J. Moore has had some flashes. Collectively drops have been a problem, though, particularly last week at home against Michigan.
Don’t be surprised if Maryland has some success running the ball but Ohio State makes sure the receivers aren’t able to create many big plays down the field. This is the type of unit it is smart to let self-destruct.
If the Terrapins show up with a more coherent plan at Ohio State than they showed against Michigan (or in earlier games I’ve watched), it would probably help, but they don’t seem to know how to set the table for themselves.
Maryland is in the first year moving to a 4-3 and the front seven is not bad.
Ends Roman Braglio and Yannick Ngakoue are both impressive for different reasons. Braglio is a pocket-pusher while Ngakoue is an outstanding athlete who is probably a bit undersized to be playing end but might benefit from only having to go one direction as opposed to when he was an outside linebacker last season. He reminds me very much of Thaddeus Gibson.
Inside, junior tackle Quinton Jefferson is having a very productive season, and he is a lot to deal with as a long, athletic 289-pounder who can rush the passer as well as take on blockers and make plays against the run.
Those guys should provide a good test for the Ohio State offensive line, especially in pass protection.
They stalemated Michigan all day, and it is probably not a coincidence two of the Wolverines' touchdowns came on constraint plays (an end around and a screen where Maryland lost leverage and they turned into big plays) because the base stuff wasn’t working for the Wolverines. (The third TD was on a 24-yard drive set up by Maryland’s terrible punting and came long after the Terps had packed it in, another sign Edsall’s days should probably be numbered.)
They’ve lost three linebackers to injury, but middle linebacker Jermaine Carter Jr. is a sophomore who keeps showing up on the film. He plays with good instincts and is quick and a good tackler. Very productive guy.
The secondary looks better than it plays. One corner, Sean Davis, is a converted safety who is second on the team in tackles and brings good size (6-1, 202) to the position but might still be learning the finer points of matching up in coverage. The other corner, William Likely, is 5-7, 175 but one of the best players in the conference pound for pound. He battles in coverage and is pretty good. The safeties are third and fourth on the team in tackles, but neither of them really jump off the film.
As Urban Meyer mentioned, Likely is also one of the best return men in the country. He’s an explosive athlete who can cut on a dime and really accelerate.
Maryland has a handful of guys who can play most places in the Big Ten, some of whom merely pass the look test and others who are actually productive players at this point in their careers.
That said, there is an overall sense of “blah” pervading the program. They don’t look like a team that was ever going to be a contender, but a decent bowl should be on the table based on the roster and that doesn’t seem like it’s going to happen.