Maryland showing major improvement under Durkin
I’m going to state the obvious here. Maryland looks nothing like it did a year ago.
You can take that 3-9 record, wad it into a ball, toss it in the wastebasket and completely forget it ever existed. Any resemblances of last year’s last-placed B1G East team have been erased. What you’ve seen through four weeks is a completely different focus and mentality from the kids in College Park.
Maryland dominated from start to finish. Purdue couldn’t do anything offensively and couldn’t stop anyone defensively. It culminated in the biggest margin of victory for the Terrapins, winning 50-7. They were merciless against the Boilermakers, even after they had surrendered.
It wasn’t that long ago that Maryland was in Purdue’s shoes. Six of the team’s nine losses were by three or more scores. The Terrapins threw 29 interceptions and had 36 total turnovers, the worst totals in the nation. About the only thing Maryland could do in 2015 was run the football – they finished third in the B1G in average yardage per game on the ground.
What a difference a year makes.
The same deficiencies that hindered Maryland a season ago are gone. The players have adopted that aggressive passion that D.J. Durkin exuded during spring practice and fall camp. The defense has been physical and the offense has been opportunistic.
After four games, the Terrapins are averaging 43.3 points per game, up from the 24.7 they averaged last season. The turnover issue that plagued this team a year ago (29 interceptions, 36 total turnovers), seem to have been addressed. About the only thing that remains the same is the running game, and boy, has it been successful early this year.
Maryland gouged Purdue for 400 yards on the ground. Sophomore Ty Johnson – who had 250 yards for the season last year – accounted for 204 of those rushing yards today. He had just seven carries.
Dominance on the ground has been the story early in the year. After Saturday’s win over Purdue, the Terrapins are averaging 299 yards per game on the ground and they’ve scored 15 touchdowns, too. Nobody’s really been able to stop the run. In the B1G opener, the Boilermakers couldn’t even slow it down.
Because of it, Maryland is off to a 4-0 start and sits just two wins away from bowl eligibility. A thought that, in the offseason, seemed like nothing more than a pipe dream.
Not many of the remaining eight games on Maryland’s schedule will be as easy as the first four. Durkin and company are going to have their hands full with teams like Ohio State, Michigan State, Michigan and others. But they’ve gotten pretty good head start on that bowl eligibility. Those six wins are easily within reach just five weeks into the year.
The Terrapins have done everything they needed to do to this point. In their four most winnable games they’ve come out on top, something they couldn’t say a year ago.
A 43-point win over Purdue hardly proves that Maryland is a contender in the B1G East or that its even worthy to be mentioned in the same category with the upper-echelon of the conference. There’s still a long way to go.
But Maryland is better now than it was in 2015. In nearly every aspect, the Terrapins have improved. They’re just two wins away from bowl eligibility.
And Durkin is just beginning.