Maryland football haven’t had the easiest time in the past few years. They’re now gearing up to start a new and hopefully better season in 2022.
Maryland football has seen its share of ups and downs, but mostly downs in the past few years. But head coach Mike Locksley entering his fourth season with the Terrapins is hoping that the trend continues where he’s improved the team’s record every year since his arrival.
With an experienced core, albeit in a tough Big Ten, the Terps have a legitimate chance to make a bowl game in back-to-back years and, perhaps just as important for the future, be one of the most fun teams in the country.
Coming in at No. 48 in the FanSided Preseason Top 50 rankings, the Maryland Terrapins.
Maryland football 2021 season in review
Maryland fought hard last season after some mid-year tribulations and managed to pull off a bowl berth followed by a significant 54-10 victory over Virginia Tech in the Pinstripe Bowl. This was their first bowl victory since 2010, which undoubtedly shows improving potential under head coach Mike Locksley
They started off the season strong with four-straight wins before losing to Iowa. After the loss, they struggled to find success against virtually all of the top-tier competition they faced in the Big Ten but got the wins they needed to see the postseason.
The Terps did lose some talent, particularly on defense with Sam Okuayinonu and starting safeties Nick Cross and Jordan Mosley. But all told, the team returns 15 starters and hopes that both sides of the ball will be able to make a jump from last season and get Maryland football to another level.
Previewing Maryland Terrapins offense for 2022 season
Returning starters (8): QB Taulia Tagovailoa, WR Rakim Jarrett, WR Dontay Demus, OL Jaelyn Duncan, OL Spencer Anderson, OL Mason Lunsford, OL Aric Harris, OL Johari Branch
Notable newcomers: WR Jacob Copeland (Florida), 4-star RB Ramon Brown, QB Billy Edwards Jr. (Wake Forest)
Impact player: Rakim Jarrett
Jaelyn Duncan and Spencer Anderson are among some of the best offensive players for Maryland. Both have had honorable mentions for All-Big Ten teams and bring continuity to an offensive front that returns all five starters.
Taulia Tagovailoa also deserves recognition for leading the offense last season and potentially taking a step forward this season as he threw for 3,860 yards and 26 touchdowns last season, though he did have 11 interceptions with five coming in a loss to Iowa.
However, the wide receiver room is where the standouts are with Rakim Jarrett and Dontay Demus returning — the latter getting back on the field after dealing with injuries in 2021 — and looking towards being selected in the 2023 NFL Draft. They should buoy an offense that, along with Florida transfer Jacob Copeland and freshman Ramon Brown, could be lethal against even the better teams in the Big Ten.
Previewing Maryland Terrapins defense for 2022 season
Returning starters (7): NT Ami Finau, DL Mosiah Nasili-Kite, LB Durell Nchami, LB Ruben Huppolite II, LB Fanajae Gotay, CB Deonte Banks, CB Jakorian Bennett
Notable newcomers: LB Vandarius Cowan (Alabama/West Virginia), DT Henry Chibueze (Liberty), 4-star LB Jaishawn Barham
Impact player: Durell Nchami
The defense will be under the direction of yet another new defensive coordinator at Maryland, this time Brian Williams. While the change is always difficult for a college defense to find consistency with, the good news for the Terps is that they have a ton of returning experience on this side of the ball as well and could make an impact.
Ami Finau and Mosiah Nasili-Kite are back on the defensive line and came on strong at the end of last season to give a lot of hope. Moreover, the returning cornerbacks of Deonte Banks and Jakorian Bennett, in addition to nickel corner Tarheeb Still, should help alleviate breaking in new bodies at safety this season.
It’s the linebacker group, however, that should be the linchpin for the Terrapins to see defensive improvement in the 2022 season. Durell Nchami is the best playmaker but he has to stay on the field to make that valuable. Moreover, newcomers Vandarius Cowan and Jaishawn Barham come to College Park with high hopes for the immediate impact they can make.
Maryland football players awards watch for 2022 season
There are three Maryland Terrapins drawing attention on preseason award watch lists.
Taulia Tagovailoa, Heisman
If anyone earns a Heisman Trophy bid for Maryland, it would most likely be Tagovailoa. He’s no stranger to the NFL. His brother, Tua, was a first-round draft pick for the Miami Dolphins and a Heisman finalist himself while at Alabama, and he could likely be following in his footsteps.
Tagovailoa is a confident player who is quick to make decisions. Because of that, he leads Maryland’s offense extremely well. With a little more development and some work under pressure, he could easily be an asset in the NFL and has a real chance of winning a Heisman Trophy.
Anthony Pecorella, Wuerffel Trophy
Pecorella was added to the preseason watch list for the Wuerffel Trophy, and he’d be a great candidate. The Wuerffel Trophy honors players who serve their community.
According to UMTerps, Pecorella is very involved in raising awareness for mental health and is also involved with Team IMPACT to help connect kids with athletic teams. He’s undoubtedly having a big impact on the community, and he certainly has a strong chance of winning the award.
Tarheeb Still, Paul Hornung Award
Still was added to the watch list for the Paul Hornung Award, which is annually given to the most versatile player in major college football. Still has a big impact on the team and carries many roles, including playing every snap at cornerback, being a punt returner and blocking kicks. He’s broken several school records. He was one of 52 players recognized and added to the watch list and, should he continue to wear all these hats for the Terps, should be in strong consideration to win.
Maryland football biggest game on 2022 schedule
On Oct. 8, the Terrapins welcome the Purdue Boilermakers to College Park in a game that could be absolutely crucial for Locksley and his team getting back to a bowl game for the second consecutive season.
Purdue figures to be a big-time spoiler once again in the Big Ten as they return an experienced quarterback and offense and some talent on defense, despite some losses. Why this is a critical matchup for Maryland, though, is that they get the game at home and it could be the difference between 6-6 and 5-7 at the end of the regular season. Should they drop a winnable game to the likes of Northwestern, SMU or Indiana, they’ll need the win over Purdue to secure their bowl bid.
Getting the Spoilermakers at home is a stroke of good luck but, in what could be a frenetic and high-scoring affair given the makeup of both teams, Maryland needs to use home field to their advantage to pick up a key victory to locking up their spot in the postseason.
Maryland football best-case scenario
All cards out on the table, the Terps aren’t beating the likes of Ohio State and Michigan this season. Even with the improvements under Locksley, that’s reaching a bit too far. The same is likely true for games at Wisconsin and Penn State, as well as potentially when Michigan State comes around.
However, the best-case scenario for this team would be winning the other seven games on the schedule, all of them either being circled as a “W” or at least a toss-up as of right now, but also being able to knock off the Spartans or another higher-end opponent. That would put them at 8-4 on the season, which would continue the improvement that we’ve seen as Locksley leave his fingerprints on the program.
Maryland football worst-case scenario
The part that every fan wants to believe isn’t possible. There is at least a chance that Taulia Tagovailoa and the offense don’t take that next step. Meanwhile, it’s also possible that the defense remains a problem and doesn’t see the expected improvements under a new defensive coordinator and with their experience and a small influx of talent.
If one or both of those instances come to pass, then making a bowl game could be a challenge for the Terrapins. If we go back to that 7-5 baseline mentioned earlier, those shortcomings would give them a likely loss in the Purdue game and would also likely mean slipping up on the road against teams such as Indiana and SMU. Los all three of those games and the Terps are taking a step back with a 4-8 record and watching the postseason at home.
Maryland Terrapins 2022 season prediction
With the plethora of returning starters on both sides of the ball, Maryland football has reason for legitimate optimism this season. No, they aren’t going to compete to win the Big Ten, but they have the chance to be even more competitive than they were a year ago.
All told, the best-case scenario for this team appears to be far more likely than the worst-case scenario. This offense that impressed in spurts during the 2021 season could be a consistent force this year while the defense should be markedly better. With that being said, the prediction is that this team lives up to the best-case scenario, does their job against Purdue at home, and picks up a signature win over one of Michigan State, Penn State or Wisconsin to go 8-4 on the season.
Maryland football 2022 bowl game prediction
Maryland may end up in the Military Bowl this year, according to Bill Bender with Sporting News, where they would match up with Liberty in those projections. Last year, they won the Pinstripe Bowl after a tough season.
If all goes well, the Terps could be well on their way to a second-consecutive bowl victory.
Up Next: No. 47: UCF Knights
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