It's about eight months until Maryland football returns, but there's still plenty to talk about. Next month we'll get Signing Day and the first spring depth chart, and some roster moves are bound to happen in between. One thing that is set is Maryland's schedule, with two new teams and 10 returning ones.
We'll start with the non-conference schedule, when Maryland plays Richmond, Bowling Green, South Florida and West Virginia. The Terps went 3-1 in their non-conference slate last year, beating James Madison, South Florida and Syracuse and losing to West Virginia. We'll have more on Maryland's Big Ten schedule (same as 2014 with home site reversed) over the next two days.
Below are capsules on each team's season, with information on what they bring back in 2015 and coaching staffs. I've included Football Outsiders' F/+ rankings as well. For reference, Maryland returns five starters on offense and four on defense. Maryland ranks No. 54 in overall F/+, No. 58 in offensive F/+, No. 66 in defensive F/+ and No. 7 in special teams F/+.
September 5, College Park: Richmond Spiders
2014 record: (9-5, 5-3 CAA)
Returning starters: 6 offense, 4 defense
F/+ rankings: N/A (FCS team)
The Spiders lost to Coastal Carolina in the second round of the FCS playoffs, after defeating Lee Hull's Morgan State in the opening round. Richmond's only game against FBS competition last season was at Virginia, a game they lost 45-13. Most of their key contributors graduated, especially on defense, but linebacker Omar Howard will be one to watch. He was second on the team with 92 tackles, with six for a loss, three sacks, an interception and a fumble forced.
They're coached by Danny Rocco, an assistant under Ron Vanderlinden at Maryland from 1998-99. After four straight ranked finishes and four conference championships at Liberty, Rocco was hired at Richmond prior to the 2012 season. The Spiders won the CAA in his first season, and after a down 2013 (6-6), they rebounded with a strong 2014 season. Offensive coordinator Brandon Streeter (a former quarterback at Clemson) followed Rocco over from Liberty, and the two have installed a very successful pass-heavy offense at the program. Defensive coordinator Bob Trott previously held DC positions with Arkansas, Clemson, Duke, Baylor and Louisiana-Monroe
September 12, College Park: Bowling Green Falcons
2014 record: (8-6, 5-3 MAC)
Returning starters: 11 offense, 9 defense
F/+ rankings: 102nd overall: 97th offense, 112th defense, 57th special teams
SB Nation site: Hustle Belt.
Most important for Bowling Green: star quarterback Matt Johnson will be back after missing the 2014 season due to injury. The year was a step back for the Falcons, breaking in a new coach, but a strong start to conference play helped win them the MAC East title. Bowling Green was whomped by NIU in the conference title game, and beat South Alabama in a wild Camellia Bowl.
Dino Babers is the Falcons' head coach, just finishing up his first season on the job. A former offensive coordinator at Arizona and Texas A&M, Babers was an assistant under Art Briles at Baylor before being hired as FCS Eastern Illinois' head coach in 2012. The Panthers won the Ohio Valley Conference in each of his two years with the school, making it to the FCS Quarterfinals in 2013 before being hired to replace Dave Clawson at Bowling Green. Co-offensive coordinators Sterlin Gilbert and Matt Mattox followed Babers from Eastern Illinois, as did defensive coordinator Kim McCloud.
September 19, College Park: South Florida Bulls
2014 record: (4-8, 3-5 AAC)
Returning starters: 7 offense, 4 defense
F/+ rankings: 122nd overall: 119th offense, 101st defense, 106th special teams
SB Nation site: VoodooFive.
Maryland traveled to play the Bulls in Tampa this past season, winning an ugly game 24-17, and it's Maryland's turn to play host this season. South Florida won games against FCS Western Carolina, UConn, Tulsa and SMU -- a combined four FBS wins between them in 2014 -- and appear to have quite a ways to go in their rebuild. The good news is they return almost all of their parts on offense, including running back Marlon Mack (1,041 yards, nine touchdowns as a freshman).
A former Western Kentucky quarterback, Taggart was either on the team or on the coaching staff from 1995-2006. He joined JIm Harbaugh's staff at Stanford in 2007, returning to the Hilltoppers as their head coach in 2010. After leading them to their first ever bowl berth in 2012, he was hired at South Florida, posting a 6-18 record in two seasons. The Bulls will be breaking in a pair of new offensive coordinators this season to try and boost their scoring output, with former Purdue head coach Danny Hope and Danny Reaves (once an assistant under Mike Locksley at New Mexico) co-running the system. There's a new coordinator on defense, as well: former Ole Miss linebackers coach Tom Allen, a former high school coach who has been shooting up the college ranks.
September 26, Morgantown: West Virginia Mountaineers
2014 record: (7-6, 5-4 Big 12)
Returning starters: 7 offense, 9 defense
F/+ rankings: 39th overall: 53rd offense, 31st defense, 60th special teams
SB Nation site: Smoking Musket.
Another repeat from last season, Maryland lost a heartbreaker to West Virginia 40-37 in College Park. The Mountaineers ended up being the only team to beat Baylor in the regular season, but a poor finish to the year (and a Liberty Bowl loss to Texas A&M) resulted in a 7-6 record. First team All-Big 12 safety Karl Joseph returns for his senior year after 90 tackles (4.5 for a loss), three passes broken up, three forced fumbles and an interception this year. Quarterback Clint Trickett will not return, retiring due to concussions, leaving the quarterback position a considerable question.
After time as an assistant under offensive minds Hal Mumme, Mike Leach, Kevin Sumlin and Mike Gundy, Dana Holgorsen received his first head coaching opportunity with West Virginia in 2011. After a 10-3 record and an Orange Bowl win in his first season with the Mountaineers, the program moved into the Big 12 and has relatively struggled since. In the three years since the move, West Virginia is 18-20 with a 11-16 record in conference play and two bowl losses. Offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson left for the same job with Kentucky, and they haven't hired a replacement yet. Defensive coordinator Tony Gibson is a former Rich Rodriguez assistant who followed the coach to Michigan and returned to WVU in 2013. He oversaw a major improvement in his first year running the defense, and returns nearly every starter from his unit.