Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, February 23, 2016

Maryland turns the page on a new era with D.J. Durkin taking over in College Park. Durkin replaces Randy Edsall, who had a largely uneventful four-plus year tenure in going to just two bowls after taking over in 2011. Offensive coordinator Mike Locksley took over after Edsall was fired during last season, as Maryland finished 3-9 and lost nine in a row at one time.

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The staff must adapt to the personnel, so the spring will be a critical time to develop chemistry for all parties. Durkin, who arrives from Michigan where he was the defensive coordinator, also has some key personnel issues to deal with.

Maryland ranked 11th in scoring defense (34.4 ppg) and 11th in total defense (421.2 ypg). The offense also has problems. No school in the nation turned the ball over more than Maryland?s 36. And the quarterback play was abysmal, as the Terps tossed a national-high 29 interceptions for a program that had a conference worst minus-18 turnover margin. The aerial attack was No. 13 in the Big Ten (174.3 ypg). The line also has lots of room for improvement even though the Terps had the No. 3 rushing game in the Big Ten in 2015 (200.7 ypg).

Here are three areas to watch this spring.

1. Quarterback. Seniors Perry Hills and Caleb Rowe return. Each brings plenty of experience to the table. Each also was an interception machine in 2015, as Hills tossed 13 and Rowe had 15. Look for true freshman Tyrrell Pigrome to push both of them once he arrives on campus. He was the Gatorade Player of the Year in Alabama and really fits well into coordinator Walt Bell?s spread offensive style. Keep an eye on redshirt freshman Gage Shaffer. Hills probably is the front-runner when you consider Bell prefers an option attack and Hills is more mobile and athletic than Rowe. Plus, Bell's spread offenses historically haven't required a big-armed QB like Rowe.

2. Defensive line. Two yawning holes must be filled up front with Yannick Ngakoue and Quinton Jefferson both leaving early for the NFL. Ngakoue was a speedy force off the edge who set the program's single-season sack record in 2015. New coordinator Scott Shafer will keep an eye on Jesse Aniebonam, Kingsly Opara and Cavon Walker. Someone needs to bring the heat off the edge for a defense that needs a lot of help.

3. Secondary. Star corner Will Likely is back. He is one of the best in the Big Ten and doubles as a standout return man. He averaged 17.7 yards per punt return in 2015 and scored two TDs. Likely also scored on a 100-yard kickoff return. But three other starters in the secondary must be found. Coach Durkin brought in a lot of talent on signing day, and some of those guys could contribute right away. Corner Antwaine Richardson already is enrolled and could be a plug-and-play guy. Veterans that should compete include Darnell Savage Jr., Alvin Hill and Josh Woods.


Record: 3-9 overall, 1-7 Big Ten/T6th East
Spring ball starts: March 7
Spring game: April 16

Key players gone: K Brad Craddock; CB Sean Davis; OT Ryan Doyle; S A.J. Hendy; DE Quinton Jefferson; C Evan Mulrooney; DE Yannick Ngakoue; S Anthony Nixon; RB Brandon Ross; G Andrew Zeller

Key players back: DE Roman Braglio; LB Jalen Brooks; RB Wes Brown; LB Jermaine Carter; WR Malcolm Culmer; OT Michael Dunn; TE Avery Edwards; OT Derwin Gray; WR Levern Jacobs; WR Taivon Jacobs; CB Will Likely; WR D.J. Moore; OT Damian Prince