By Adam Gotkin
For the Maryland offense, year after year, there is always something that throws everything off the rails. And for the past five years, an injury to the starting quarterback has been the team’s kryptonite. Case in point, Josh Jackson suffered an ankle injury last season right before two must win games. If something like that happens again this season, the team will be in big trouble as they only have two quarterbacks on scholarship.
The two quarterbacks that the team has on scholarship are both potential stars. Incoming transfer from Alabama, and younger brother of the number five overall pick in the NFL draft (Tua Tagovailoa), Taulia Tagovailoa is a redshirt sophomore and is the probable starter this season. The man expected to back him up, redshirt freshman Lance LeGendre is also very talented. While both have an extreme amount of talent, Taulia’s familiarity of the offense and ability to make plays both in the run and pass game will most likely elevate him to the starting job. Both Tagovailoa and LeGendre come in with limited experience, with Tagovailoa only throwing 12 passes last season for Alabama, and LeGendre with only three for the Terps.
Joining the quarterback in the backfield will be a committee of four unique,
talented, running backs who are expected to split time, depending on the different formations and situations the team will be in throughout games. These four will have big shoes to fill after the departures of Anthony McFarland Jr. and Javon Leake, who both left this past offseason to enter the NFL draft. Out of the four tailbacks, there is a big mix in experience with two seniors (Tayon Fleet-Davis and Jake Funk) who are expected to
lead the team in carries to start the season, and two influxes of youth with four star recruit Peny Boone out of Detroit and three star Isaiah Jacobs from Oklahoma expected to supplement the two older backs.
The final skill position, wide receiver, could be the best of the bunch . This position will also be one of the more important ones moving forward this season, as the team has a huge hole at tight end which will be brought more into depth later. This gap at tight end will cause the Terps to have four receivers in on many plays and ensure that this position will be very
noteworthy throughout the season. The skill at wideout this year seems to be endless. The team returns Dontay Demus Jr. who last year was an honorable mention All-Big Ten. In addition to Demus, Jeshaun Jones will be returning after missing all of last season with an ACL injury. Jones scored the most receiving touchdowns as a freshman at Maryland since Stefon Diggs back in 2012. In addition to the two returning starters, Rakim Jarret, a five star recruit who was ranked the 22th overall player in the country by ESPN, is highly expected to make a giant impact this season. To round out
the receiving corps, there are multiple upperclassmen including Darryl Jones and Brian Cobbs who could make an impact, but keep an eye out for freshmen Deajuan Mcdougle, Corey Dyches and Nick Degennaro to get some playing time and reps this season.
The tight end position this year is by far the thinnest position on the offense, and yet it was supposed to be one of the best. On August 7th, Chigoziem Okonkwo the junior starting tight end, who was on the John Mackey Award watch list which is given to the nations top tight end, decided to opt out due to a medical condition. This leaves redshirt freshman Malik Jackson to start at tight end, yet he has appeared in only one
game in his college career. The team also had to move defensive players players Tyler Baylor and Kameron Blount to tight end to supplement Jackson.
Finally, now we talk about the offensive line. The o-line will end up being one of the more interesting parts of the offense this year. The team returns both of their starting offensive tackles, Jaelyn Duncan on the left side and Marcus Minor on the right. The other returning lineman this year for the Terps is senior center Johnny Jordan who had originally decided to opt out of the season back in August but decided to opt back in and play. In between the two tackles and Jordan is where the questions are for this Maryland offensive line. At left guard, Evan Gregory, a redshirt sophomore and Dematha graduate is expected to start after Sean Christie graduated last year. Over at right guard though, is where the real questions are. The chaos started when Terrance Davis transferred to Wake Forest, then his expected replacement Austin Fontaine decided to opt out due to COVID. The
job is still open for who will start at right guard but it’s expected to be either Johari Branch or Amelio Moran, both junior college transfers.
In summary, this offense has a lot of potential. There are improvements at many positions and they have a big chance to surprise many people. But at the end of the day, it all comes down to if they can stay healthy, and if this young offense can put up some points and compete.
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