Maryland football and Mike Locksley,
I owe you a sincere apology. To everyone associated with Maryland football — players, coaches, administrative staff, fans, and anyone else with ties to the program — I’m sorry. I wrote you off before watching a single snap this season, and you’ve made me look like a fool.
When Maryland decided to hire you, Locks, over Matt Canada and a handful of other names available for the job, I criticized the move. I stared at your brief run at New Mexico and judged you off a two-year stint that was well over a decade ago. Rather than thinking you could possibly revitalize and rejuvenate the Terps in College Park, I thought this was a disaster waiting to happen.
Clearly, I was wrong.
I scanned the roster from top to bottom numerous times. I knew there was talent on offense. Names like Anthony McFarland Jr., Tayon Fleet-Davis, Javon Leake and Jake Funk stood out. Josh Jackson was transferring in from Virginia Tech to provide some stability under center. The athleticism was there — I never doubted that — but there are a ton of talented offensive players in the B1G. I wasn’t overly impressed.
Two games into the season, all you have done is score 142 points — dropping 79 against Howard and another 63 on No. 21 Syracuse. You’re averaging 636 yards off offense per contest, and have the B1G’s top rushing attack currently.
How was I suppose to know that you, Mike, would actually be bringing the kind of offense to Maryland that Purdue and Nebraska fans thought they were getting when Jeff Brohm and Scott Frost came to their respective programs?
To make matters worse, I looked at the defensive lineup and shrieked. With losses like Tre Watson, Darnell Savage and Byron Cowart, I thought there was no possible way you’d be able to stop anybody this year. I spoke to Tino Ellis and Antoine Brooks Jr. at B1G Media Days — both were extremely excited about the season and telling me how confident they were with the new regime in place.
Honestly, I didn’t believe them. As kind as they were with their time and polite with their responses, I quietly thought that the defense would endure some growing pains. I wasn’t sure they’d be able to stop anybody this fall, let alone teams like Ohio State, Penn State and Michigan.
In two games, Maryland, you have allowed 20 points, are giving up an average of 234 yards per game and have tallied 12 sacks. I didn’t see that coming.
Rather than give you chance, I slotted you as the No. 14 team in my B1G power rankings to start the year (you’re now up to No. 6, by the way). Shortly after you were hired, Locks, I proclaimed that the Maryland roster probably wasn’t good enough to win a single B1G game. The ceiling, I thought, was 4-8.
I didn’t pick you to cover a 30-point spread against Howard — which you damn-near tripled. Syracuse seemed like an easy selection in our weekly picks before Saturday.
Boy was I wrong.
You shoved it in my face, almost like you had heard how much doubt I had about this program. You didn’t just post convincing wins over Howard and a ranked Syracuse squad, you stomped all over them. It’s been one of the most impressive two-game runs I can remember.
Now, you’re ranked No. 21 in the Associated Press poll. After two games. Impressive, to say the least.
Regardless of what happens the rest of the way, I’m a believer now. You’re the right guy for the job, Coach Locksley. The talent is on the roster to win a lot of games this season, potentially pull off another upset or two along the way. And after every win, feel free to mock me for my preseason doubt. I’m more than willing eat crow for not believing in what was coming to College Park.
It took me two games to believe things can be different at Maryland. I should’ve never been so resistant in the first place.
So, once again, I’m sorry. Now, go do your thing, Maryland. I’ll watch every game with an open mind now. And I certainly won’t be counting you out.