The Maryland Terrapins have been at the bottom of the barrel in the Big Ten East since they joined the conference in 2014. But the program looks to turn all that around with the hiring of new head coach Mike Locksley.
Maryland has beaten Michigan just once since joining the Big Ten, but the offensive-minded Locksley will have some weapons to play with, and a defense that have some veterans running the ship.
Here are the guys the Wolverines will have to game plan for when they square off in the bottom third of the season.
RB Anthony McFarland
McFarland was a freshman-phenom last season as he rumbled and tumbled 1,034 rushing yards in 2018, the 41st-best in the nation.
Michigan slowed him down last season by holding him to only 34 rushing yards, but McFarland showed up and showed out toward the end of his first season with Maryland. He ran for 298 yards on 21 attempts against Ohio State in the near-upset loss in overtime.
McFarland opened up the game with back-to-back 75+ yard touchdowns:
A week prior, McFarland ran for 210 yards in the 34-32 loss to Indiana.
He is the X-factor for this offense. If McFarland plays well, this offense could keep up with almost anyone in the country last season. Locksley will only find more ways to get the incoming sophomore involved in his offense.
The goal is obvious from the clip above — contain the outside. McFarland has break away, blazing speed that nearly no one can catch up to in the open field. The defensive ends and outside linebackers for Michigan will have to continue to force McFarland to the inside to keep him hemmed in, preventing him from breaking off big runs.
S Antoine Brooks
Brooks and first round pick Darnell Savage Jr. ruled the secondary for Maryland last year.
With Savage now in the NFL, Brooks is going to have to step up and become the leader of the secondary. Especially with three straight games against Michigan, Ohio State and Nebraska, who all have dynamic quarterbacks.
Brooks had 68 tackles and 2.5 sacks in 2018 along with three passes defended.
Brooks has great size for a safety, the power to push through offensive linemen and the finesse to keep up with running backs and receivers.
WR Jeshaun Jones
Jones is a really talented wide receiver that was in a run-happy offense last season. In fact, the Terrapins threw for only 1,695 yards last season — 121st in the nation.
Jones made the most of the opportunities he had — finishing the year with 22 receptions, 288 yards and five touchdowns. That may not look very impressive on paper, but Locksley will likely bring in more passing schemes to the offense, and Jones will be an important weapon.
The sophomore is also very quick. He gets off blocks early and is one of the most confident receivers in the Big Ten. This clip will show you what I mean:
He is elusive, shifty and finds ways to break defender’s ankles. I think he takes big step forward this season and becomes one of the primary components of the Terps offense.