It is time for the 2022 Wisconsin Badgers football season preview extravaganza to begin! Over the next (almost) two months we will be preparing you for the upcoming football season. We’ve got previews of every team on Wisconsin’s schedule, we’ve got positional breakdowns of each group at UW, we’ll have predictions for the full conference, rankings of the top units in the Big Ten as well as a couple of larger features that we think are interesting.
Next up, Maryland.
Team: Maryland Terrapins
Head coach: Mike Locksley, fourth season, 12-18
2021 record: 7-6 overall, 3-6 Big Ten Conference
Game info: Saturday, Nov. 5, TBD, Camp Randall Stadium
Top returning players
- Junior, QB Taulia Tagovailoa, 328-474 (69%) passing for 3,860 yards, 26 touchdowns, 11 interceptions, 296.9 YPG, 77 rushing yards, two touchdowns.
- Junior, WR Rakim Jarrett, 62 receptions for 829 yards, five touchdowns, 63.8 YPG.
- Sophomore, RB Colby McDonald, 60 carries for 325 yards, two touchdowns, 40.6 YPG.
- Senior, Dontay Demus Jr., 28 receptions for 507 yards, three touchdowns in five games (101.4 YPG).
- Junior, LB Ruben Hyppolite II, 62 total tackles, one forced fumble, two pass break-ups.
- WR Jacob Copeland, a former 4-star recruit and transfer from Florida who caught 41 passes for 642 yards and four touchdowns with Florida in 2021.
- Edge Quashon Fuller, a former 4-star recruit from Florida State. Recorded eight total tackles and one sack with the Seminoles in 2021.
- Kicker Chad Ryland, transfer from Easter Michigan, 19-of-22 field goals and 47-of-47 extra points in 2021. Career long field goal is 55 yards (2021). Was 5-of-6 from 40-49 yards and 2-of-2 from 50+ last season. He has already been added to the Lou Garza Award Watch List.
Top newcomers from Wisconsin!
2021 season review
Ahead of the 2021 season, head coach Mike Locksley said that the Terps were ready to take the next step. While Maryland managed just a 7-6 record overall, they did finish with their first winning season since 2014 and their first bowl win since 2010.
Maryland’s bowl victory was a 54-10 blowout over Virginia Tech in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl. In the game, Taulia Tagovailoa was an efficient 20-of-24, for 265 yards and two touchdowns. Both scores went to Darryl Jones, who has since transferred to NC State.
While Maryland started off the season with a 4-0 record, with wins over West Virginia, Illinois, Ken State and a 62-0 win over Howard, things quickly turned for the Terps as they got stuck on their shells, dropping three-straight games to No. 5 Iowa (51-14), No. 7 Ohio State (66-17) and Minnesota (34-16).
The Terps were able to get back to their winning ways with a 38-35 win over Indiana, where Tagovailoa turned in the best passing performance that the program has seen since 1993, going 26-of-40 for 419 yards and two touchdowns. Maryland then dropped another three straight, losing against Penn State (31-14), No. 7 Michigan State (40-21) and No. 6 Michigan (59-18). They did however finish off the regular season with a 40-16 win over Rutgers, before the Pinstripe Bowl win.
One constant of the Maryland season, even with it’s ups and downs was Tagovailoa dropping back to pass. Maryland attempted the No. 16 most passes in the NCAA in 2021 (489 attempts) and the third most in the Big Ten, trailing only Purdue (576 attempts) and Ohio State (494 attempts).
Maryland was No. 13 in the NCAA with 304.6 passing yards per game and again third in the Big Ten, trailing Ohio State (380.9) and Purdue (355.4). With Maryland’s successes on offense, obviously something had to be give, seeing as their 7-6 record was merely average, and boy did the Maryland defense give…
The Terps finished No. 13 in the Big Ten, allowing 30.7 points per game in 2021, No. 13 in passing defense, allowing 249.5 passing yards per game, and No. 11 in rushing defense, allowing 154.8 rushing yards per game.
Key stat: Given Maryland’s ranking in the passing game, one would think that they lean heavily on the passing game, but the Terps actually threw the ball 37.6 times per game in 2021 and ran the ball 33.7 times per game. However, their success rate within the rushing attack was lacking. Maryland finished No. 93 in the NCAA in rushing yards per game (136.5) and averaged four yards per carry. Only four Big Ten teams averaged fewer rushing yard per game – Iowa (123.6), Indiana (114.5), Penn State (107.8) and Purdue (84.2).
2022 season preview
If Locksley hopes that Maryland can continue to take another step forward in 2022, the defense will need to improve. We noted its woes, ranking toward the bottom of the Big Ten in each of the big defensive team categories, and unfortunately for Maryland, they have lost their two leading tacklers, their leader in sacks, and one of their two leaders in interceptions.
With all of this production to replace, Maryland also welcomes a new defensive coordinator, in Brian Williams, who is the fourth to hold the position at Maryland since 2019. Williams has been with Maryland since that season and has held multiple positions within the defensive coaching staff, but 2022 will be his first year at the helm of the unit.
Williams does have some stability, with starting corners Deonte Banks, Jakorian Bennett and nickelback Tarheeb Still. Ruben Hyppolite II, who finished third on the team in tackles in 2021 moved from middle to outside linebacker, where his speed should help the Terp defense.
Offensively, the Terps lost their leading rusher, Tayon Fleet-Davis, to the NFL and Darryl Jones, who balled-out in the Pinstripe Bowl (four receptions, 111 yards, two touchdowns), to NC State.
However, Maryland does still have an experienced quarterback in Tagovailoa, who is not afraid to throw the ball around and two talented receivers in Rakim Jarrett, who finished with over 88 yards receiving per game in 2021 and Dontay Demus Jr., who was averaging over 100 receiving yards per contest in 2021, before suffering a season-ending injury. He is rumored to be ready for the season opener. Colby McDonald is the leading returning rusher and should settle into the starting role at running back.
Maryland gets rematches with four of the teams that beat them last season (Michigan, Michigan State, Penn State and Ohio State) and while they avoid Iowa and Minnesota, the Terps have drawn Wisconsin and Northwestern from the Big Ten West this year.
Maryland has not won more than three conference games since 2014 and their conference slate of games for 2022 looks as though it could see that streak continue for another season.
The Nov. 5 matchup between Wisconsin and Maryland will likely come down to one thing, which defense can impose their will on the opposition. Wisconsin had the top scoring defense in the Big Ten in 2021 at 16.2 points per game, while Maryland had the second-worst at 30.7. Both offenses averaged about the same amount of points with Maryland having the slight edge at 29.3, to Wisconsin’s 25.4.
Examining the defenses even more, the biggest difference will be how the opposition can handle the others strength and Maryland cannot stop Wisconsin’s strength on offense, the rushing attack, while Wisconsin was the best in the Big Ten in passing defense, allowing 174.3 yards per game, Maryland’s claim to fame on offense.
When looking at their weaknesses on offense, Wisconsin is the best at stopping the rushing game and Maryland is still the second worst in the conference at stopping the passing game. If Wisconsin’s defense holds up in 2022, and the rushing offense continues to be a force, Wisconsin should leave the Terrapins shell-shocked.