2016 season review: DJ Durkin takes Maryland bowling in Year One

2016 season review: DJ Durkin takes Maryland bowling in Year One

Maryland got back in the bowl business in its first year under DJ Durkin, the former Michigan defensive coordinator. So, let’s call 2016 a success.

It helped that Maryland improved its turnover margin. Last year, the Terps were last in the Big Ten with a minus 18; this year, Maryland was just a minus five to rank 11th.

The Terrapins have some off-field momentum moving forward, too, with a new indoor practice facility set to open soon. And Durkin’s debut offered a glimpse into the future for Maryland, as the seeds have been planted for a quick-paced and exciting offense. And the defense flashed some playmaking ability, too. The issue for Maryland: talent. But count on Durkin continuing to add good players, as he is one of the Big Ten’s top recruiters.

Record: 6-6 overall; 3-6 Big Ten/5th West

Bowl: Quick Lane vs. Boston College

High point: Maryland capped a 4-0 start with a 50-7 demolition of Purdue on Oct. 1. It was complete domination by the Terrapins. Maryland scored four touchdowns and notched 293 yards in building a 29-0 halftime lead and never looked back. Maryland finished with 400 yards rushing and outgained the Boilermakers, 496-205. Terp RB Ty Johnson ran for 204 yards … on SEVEN carries. In starting 4-0, Maryland tallied a school-record 173 points. The good times were rolling in College Park, Md., and anything seemed possible.

Low point: A four game losing skid from Oct. 29-Nov. 19 threatened to derail the season. It began with a 42-36 loss at Indiana. But things were about to get a lot worse. Consecutive games at Michigan and vs. Ohio State to begin November were humbling. The Wolverines trounced the Terrapins, 59-3. Then, the Buckeyes whipped Maryland, 62-3. Add it up, and the Terrapins lost 121-6 to the Big Ten powers. The next game vs. Nebraska didn’t go much better, as the Cornhuskers won, 28-7. During the four-game game losing streak, Maryland was outscored 191-49, losing by an average score of 48-12. Alas, the Terps rebounded to beat Rutgers, 31-13, in the season finale to become bowl eligible. Whew!

Offensive MVP: Yes, QB Perry Hills. He has battled injury time and again this season, as Hills missed four games and parts of two others. But when the 6-2, 213-pound senior played, he was effective. Hills is hitting 66 percent of his passes for 1,235 yards with 10 TDs and three picks. He also has run for 134 yards and four TDs. As a result, Hills ranks No. 2 in the Big Ten in passing efficiency, helping Maryland go from a national-high 29 interceptions in 2015 to just eight this season. Tip of the hat to tackle Michael Dunn, who had a nice season and earned postseason honors from the Big Ten.

Defensive MVP: It hurt to lose stud CB Will Likely (a top return man) to a season-ending injury vs. Minnesota in mid-October. Who would fill his role as a defensive stud? Shane Cockerille. He is No. 3 in the Big Ten in tackles, averaging 9.0 per game. It was quite an effort for a guy who was playing his first season at linebacker. The 6-2, 235-pound junior arrived on campus as a quarterback before moving to fullback and then linebacker. Cockerille is a throwback who always plays hard.

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Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer

About Tom Dienhart: BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men's basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, and send him questions to his weekly mailbag.

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