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The Maryland football bye week mailbag

Answering your questions about the Terps after a hot start.

NCAA Football: Towson at Maryland Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

It’s Hump Day of Maryland football’s bye week. The Terps are 2-0 with wins over Texas and Towson, and they’ve scored an astounding 114 points in two games.

Despite the strong start, there are still a handful of unanswered questions surrounding this team. So we thought it’d be a good time to answer whatever you wanted us to. It’s mailbag time. Here’s what we got.

Let’s start here. I’ll say that the win over Texas definitely shifted expectations for myself and many others. On the season preview podcast, I predicted (half-seriously) that Maryland would go 5-7 and earn a bowl spot on APR scores. Now, the number in my head is 7-5.

The Big Ten (and the Terps’ schedule in particular) won’t be easy whatsoever, so it’d be tough to call a five-win season a “failure” at this moment. Games against Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan and Wisconsin will all be tough, and there are no givens with Minnesota, Michigan State, Northwestern, Indiana or even UCF (more on the Knights in a bit). With a team that’s relied heavily on a select few stars in the early going, a couple bad breaks could derail things.

Going from three to six to nine wins would be nice, but it’d take an upset win, no letdown performances and good health the rest of the way. The Terps’ advanced statistical profile gives them a 2 percent chance of reaching nine wins, so while it’s a nice goal to have, it shouldn’t be the expectation.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ and ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

All we know for sure about Bell is that he hasn’t been dismissed. He and fellow defensive back Alex Woods were suspended indefinitely for a code of conduct violation, and neither name shows up in a search of public records, which would indicate that they're not in legal trouble. But it’s unclear when they’ll return, and how much of a factor either will be this season.

Meanwhile, offensive coordinator Walt Bell told reporters last week that Henderson was “just starting to integrate into practice.” A day later, I saw him on campus still in a boot. I can’t speak to whether it’s on or off now, or where his game is, but I think the Terps’ goal is to have him available in an emergency for the UCF game.

When UCF comes to College Park, it’ll be the Golden Knights’ first game since Week 1, as they canceled contests against Memphis and Georgia Tech because of Hurricane Irma. So it’s incredibly tough to gauge how good this team is. We know that UCF improved from 0-12 to 6-7 in Scott Frost’s first season as head coach, and started 2017 with a 44-point win over FIU. We know that it took double-overtime for the Terps to win this matchup in Orlando last year. But we don’t know how this team, or any team, will look coming off two unplanned bye weeks.

The UCF staff is probably preparing for Maryland as I write this, so it’s possible the Terps try to bust out something we haven’t seen from them yet. But at the same time, nobody’s been able to stop the simple stuff.

Well, *we* don’t have too much control over either of those things, but I think the coaching staff will do both. The Terps have had at least one tight end on the field for most plays this season, sometimes rolling out two. While they’ve been used more in pass protection than as receiving targets so far, we should see at least a handful of receptions from that position group during the year.

We’ve already seen a handful of impressive throws from Hill, and the Terps are stretching the field vertically way more than they did last year. With D.J. Moore and Taivon Jacobs out wide, expect the deep ball to at least be in the bag from here on out.

McLean’s career has been an enigma. He was the Terps’ top-rated recruit in 2015, but eligibility issues cost him that season and injuries limited him to one game in 2016. As a sophomore, he’s in the rotation at nose tackle, with a chance to earn a starting spot sooner rather than later. If he turns into a two-year starter, it’ll be hard to call him a bust, regardless of his recruiting rating.

Goldbourne’s biggest hurdle as a recruit and as a college player has been his size. He’s 6’4, but came in barely over 200 pounds and is still listed at just 218. That’s lighter than most of the Terps’ linebackers. He’s got pass-rushing skills, but the Terps have placed a premium on size up front, as evidenced by moving Cavon Walker from defensive tackle to defensive end and Chandler Burkett across the line to the BUCK spot against Towson. Goldbourne isn’t a factor there right now, but he’s got time to find a role.

I have no idea what the threshold is between enough juice and excessive juice. I just know that the Terps have cleared it. I think Rick Court has to be the decision-maker here. This is his area.


Johnson’s career high is 15 carries against Boston College in last year’s Quick Lane Bowl. We should definitely see that surpassed this season. Because of the depth—Maryland’s rotation includes Lorenzo Harrison, Jake Funk and Javon Leake and could soon add Anthony McFarland—25 might be more than necessary, but 20 is a reasonable number if he’s needed that much.

It’s worth noting here that Johnson’s efficiency numbers—9.1 yards per carry last year and 15.1 this season—wouldn’t be nearly as high with an increased workload. But the coaches know he’s one of their most dangerous weapons. As the season rolls on, it’s easy to see him getting at least 15 to 20 touches regularly, in addition to his work on kickoff returns.

Very, very soon. He’s not one of the 18 guys we can bet on to win the award right now, so all we can do is point out his 15.1 YARDS PER CARRY, THE BEST AVERAGE IN THE WHOLE DAMN COUNTRY.

Yeah, we might have to start campaigning if he keeps this up. Let’s make him president while we’re at it.