Maryland released their Week 1 depth chart Tuesday afternoon. Interim head coach Matt Canada will lead a team that returns several key starters from a squad that defeated Texas 51-41 in Austin last season. We look at what to expect from the Maryland offense as gameday inches closer.
First look: Maryland’s depth chart vs Texas. pic.twitter.com/bYNfrObsi2
— Josh Stirn (@Josh_Stirn) August 28, 2018
The initial depth chart has the dreaded “OR” at the quarterback spot. Redshirt freshman Tyrrell Pigrome and redshirt sophomore Kasim Hill are currently listed as co-starters. Matt Canada said he knows who the starter is going to be, but declined to reveal it to the media.
Translation: Canada wants Texas to have to game plan for both guys.
Both quarterbacks should be familiar to Texas fans. Pigrome started against the Longhorns in 2017 and made his presence known, finishing 9-12 through the air for 175 yards and 2 scores while also adding 64 yards and a touchdown on the ground. When Pigrome suffered a season-ending injury in the 3rd quarter, Hill came off the bench to lead a touchdown drive to put the game out of reach for Texas.
Canada will be in his first year as the play-caller for the Terrapins, and his offense should present different challenges than those that Walt Bell brought to Austin a year ago. Canada loves to utilize various motions to create mismatches (think Bryan Harsin). It will be interesting to see how Canada uses the running ability of Pigrome and Hill, something he hasn’t had the luxury of having with quarterbacks at his previous schools.
Regardless of who starts at QB, Maryland will lean heavily on senior RB Ty Johnson, who considered entering the draft but decided to return for his senior season. The 2018 Doak Walker Award Watch List member rushed for 875 yards and 5 touchdowns in 2017, with 132 of those yards coming in Austin. Unfortunately for Johnson, his stats took a major hit last season because of how decimated the Terrapins were with injuries.
Johnson is Maryland’s best offensive player. In addition to his touches in the backfield, he will also be heavily involved in the return game.
Backup RB Lorenzo Harrison rushed for over 600 yards in 2017, including 11 carries for 45 yards against the Longhorns. Redshirt freshman Anthony McFarland could see a few touches, but I would expect Johnson and Harrison to be worked heavily this Saturday.
Wide Receiver/ Tight End
Last years matchup featured a huge game from WR DJ Moore, who torched Texas for 133 yards on 7 catches and a touchdown. Moore has since taken his talents to the NFL, but the Terrapins still return some weapons on the outside. Davion Jacobs returns for his 6th year of eligibility and was named to the Athlon Sports Preseason All-Big 10 Team. Jahrvis Davenport and DJ Turner will occupy the other two starting spots, neither of whom made an impact a season ago.
Interesting note: All 3 starters at WR are shorter than 6’0. The Texas secondary will definitely have a size advantage.
TE Chigoziem Okonkwo is the lone freshman starter on either side of the ball for the Terrapins.
Maryland returns talent and experience along the offensive line, returning 4 of 5 starters who manhandled the Texas defensive front a year ago. Tackles Derwin Gray and Damian Prince are seniors who serve as the anchors of the offensive line. The only new starter is center Johnny Jordan, who checks in at 6’1 and 304 pounds.
The offensive line is the strength of the Terrapins offense. Gray and Prince are as solid of a tackle duo as you will find. Experience in the trenches matter, and Maryland has a lot of it. The good news for Texas is that they have an experienced defensive line, led by Breckyn Hager and Charles Omenihu. It’s a cliche that could be said about any game, but the ability or inability of Texas to get into the Maryland backfield consistently will be the deciding factor of how the 2018 season will begin.
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