We’re interviewing the beat writer of Texas’ upcoming opponent each week this season. This week, it’s Roman Stubbs (@romanstubbs on Twitter) of the Washington Post offering insight on the Maryland Terrapins.
Out in College Park, what are the expectations like for this team?
The first year under DJ Durkin was considered a solid success, but expectations on the field will be tempered somewhat in 2017. Maryland faces a brutal schedule, with five games against teams in the Top 25 of the AP preseason poll, and the roster is dotted with youth and inexperience.
But it’s pretty obvious that the roster has been upgraded with talent across the board — Maryland scored its highest-rated recruiting class in program history in 2017 and are on pace to top that in 2018 — and the fan base will remain patient for results on the field. It will be interesting to see if Maryland can be any more competitive this year against top competition in the Big Ten East a year after being outscored by a combined margin of 159-20 by Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State.
Maryland announced this week that Tyrrell Pigrome will be the starting quarterback. What does he provide for the offense?
Pigrome was primarily known for his speed last season — he’s dangerous in the zone-read and can make plays with his feet when the pocket collapses — but it remains to be seen how productive he can be as a passer. There’s no doubt he has the arm strength to stretch the field, but he only completed 52 percent of his passes a year ago and struggled with the speed of the college game. He’s now had a full offseason to make adjustments and the staff selected him as the starter largely because it believes he is more than capable of making all the throws in this up-tempo scheme.
Last year, Maryland’s offensive line allowed 49 sacks but was great in run-blocking. Will the Terrapins be better at protecting the QB?
It has obviously been a major point of emphasis during the offseason and will be crucial if Maryland is to have any chance of keeping up with the Longhorns. This unit has talent — it boasts six former four-star recruits — and now experience with four players who started multiple games last season.
Maryland allowed 29.5 points per game in 2016. In order to improve those numbers, who needs to step up this season?
It starts up front with a veteran defensive line that took plenty of lumps last season. This is a 3-4 scheme that added heft during the offseason and has benefited from the hiring of former Kentucky assistant Jimmy Brumbaugh. The unit also has a gifted pass rusher in senior Jesse Aniebonam, who came on strong at the end of last season and finished with nine sacks and 14 tackles for loss.
Name one player that Texas fans aren’t talking about — but should be.
Junior wide receiver D.J. Moore. He’s been productive for two years straight, with a catch in 21 consecutive games, and last year he showed just how special he could be in the open field (he finished with six touchdowns and 13 forced missed tackles, which led the Big Ten, per Pro Football Focus). It will be crucial for Maryland to get him touches on Saturday.
Since this game is in Austin, are there any places you’re looking forward to eating at?
I’ve received plenty of recommendations, including Freedmen’s and La Barbecue, so hoping to make it to one of those spots.
The post Texas vs. Maryland: A Q&A with a Terrapins beat writer appeared first on HookEm.
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