Big Ten Media Days isn't happening as planned, but we can always pretend!
With no Big Ten Media Days this year, we're left to use our imagination a bit to enjoy our beloved cast of Big Ten head coaches. Since we can't hear from them in person, we decided to throw our own Big Ten Media Days, with fake questions and some even faker answers.
Here's how it goes: each of our interviewers poses a fake question to Locksley (some serious, some far from serious) followed by an explanation as to why that's an important question to ask and how the question might be answered – with some delightful coach impersonation tossed in.
Rutgers was our guinea pig yesterday. Now, we're onto Maryland and Mike Locksley.
Let us begin!
Kyle Jones: Can your 3-man front create enough of a pass rush to take the pressure off the conference’s worst pass defense in 2019?
Maryland’s secondary was picked apart last season as they surrendered 300+ pass yards six times while registering just 21 sacks (only Rutgers had fewer QB takedowns). Former Buckeye Keandre Jones easily led the team with seven sacks as a blitzing linebacker, while no returning Terrapin had more than one. That lack of pressure allowed good quarterbacks to sit back and pick apart the Terps’ zone-heavy schemes, even though there were often seven or eight players back in coverage.
If coordinator Jon Hoke continues to employ a hybrid 3-4 system, he’ll have to be more aggressive and send extra rushers as the down linemen provided just five sacks a year ago. Though such blitz schemes may leave his secondary exposed, the reward may be well worth such risk on a team that gave up nearly 35 points-a-game last fall.
Johnny Ginter: "Is two super kickass games a year basically the ceiling for the Terrapins? I only ask because if so, I honestly respect the hell out of last year's strategy of scoring 900 points against Howard and Syracuse to start the season before regressing back to the mean.
"I'm especially looking forward to freshman wideout (and LSU recruiting flip) Rakim Jarrett being an early Heisman hopeful before his dreams are dashed by a loss against Northwestern or someone. That wasn't a question, sorry."
I feel bad for Locksley. He's had to come in and be a replacement for a fired Maryland head coach twice now, and neither time has it gone well. It's not really his fault, but the cupboard is almost completely bare for this team this season. Those first two games in 2019 were really awesome, though. Maybe offensive coordinator Scottie Montgomery can get something going. But to be clear, for two games.
Matt Gutridge: Coach Locksley, Jim Henson (Muppets), David Simon (The Wire) and Larry David (Seinfeld/Curb Your Enthusiasm) are notable graduates of Maryland. If those talented guys were to write the story of this year’s Ohio State/Maryland game, how do you think it would read?
Mike Locksley, probably: "Considering we are 0-6 against Ohio State and lost 73-14 last year in Columbus, it might be more fitting for a horror author like Stephen King to write the narrative than a children’s author like Jim Henson or the comedic genius of Larry David. Then again, last year’s beating might have been written by Henson because the Buckeyes beating us felt like somebody shoving their first up our butts all game long.
"With that said, we did take Ohio State to OT the last time they were here and were one play away from winning the game. Maybe this year, David Simon can find the words to give us that dramatic win."
Dan Hope: What happened after the first two games last season, and how do you start to achieve sustainable success this year?
Locksley’s first two games as Maryland’s head coach went as well as anyone could have expected them to, as the Terrapins blew out Howard and Syracuse for a 2-0 start to the season, earning them an early-season ranking in the AP Top 25. Everything fell apart quickly after that, however, as the Terrapins lost nine of their final 10 games – their only other win coming against Rutgers – including six losses by 26 points or more.
So the first question for Locksley is, why did things fall apart so drastically last season? (Beyond the obvious answer of simply playing better competition.) And secondly, what needs to happen for the Terrapins to start winning more consistently this season, when they won’t have any warmup games against non-conference opponents?
Ultimately, the only answer that really matters here is whether the Terrapins actually make it happen on the field once the actual games begin, but they have to become more competitive on a regular basis if they’re going to build off the momentum Locksley has built with some notable wins on the recruiting trail. And that isn’t going to be easy to do in a division that also includes Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan and Michigan State.
David Regimbal: Since joining the Big Ten, your program has secured a few decent wins, but you haven't been able to get that signature victory that tends to launch programs from mediocrity to relevance. You almost got it two years ago with that 52-51 overtime thriller against Ohio State. Do you think you can snag one this year?
The Terrapins have in fact put together some notable wins since leaving the ACC for the Big Ten in 2014. There was the hilarious pair of wins over Texas in 2017-18, and Randy Edsall's Maryland team beat Michigan at the Big House in 2014. People forget about that.
But all three of those wins came against blue-bloods trying to reclaim their status as an elite program. The Terrapins have a number of opportunities to get that signature this win with Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan and Wisconsin on the docket. They're projected to lose each of those matchups by approximately 9,000 points, however, so Locksley has his work cut out for him.
Ramzy Nasrallah: Is Maryland doing anything to commemorate the 10-year anniversary of its most recent bowl win, the 51-20 romp over East Carolina in the 2010 Military Bowl when the Terrapins were still in the ACC?
Coach, I’m just kidding - my real question is why did Maryland snitch on Chase Young and was it worth it?
Mike Locksley, probably: "No, I don’t know and no, respectively."
Zack Carpenter: Coach, are you concerned that if you don’t start winning more games — at least getting to bowl eligibility — that you’re going to lose some of these commits you have in the 2021 class?
Maryland became the butt of Twitter jokes in November when three-star recruit Jordan White decommitted from the Terps at halftime of their game against Ohio State when they trailed 42-0. Whether that decommitment was already coming or not, the timing of it was a bit too convenient to say it was a coincidence.
In the 2021 cycle, Maryland has an absolute stud in borderline five-star Demeioun Robinson (an Ohio State target) and a couple really good pieces in Marcus Bradley and Taizse Johnson. Those are the three highest-ranked players in the class, and they’re all defensive linemen.
But if the Terps can’t put together five or six wins in a 10-game schedule — or at least show progress this year, depending on what the season schedule looks like — then they’re at risk of losing the momentum they gained from signing five-star receiver Rakim Jarrett and landing Robinson.