The University of Maryland football team is set to kick its second season under head coach D.J Durkin when the team takes on No. 23 Texas on Saturday. The last time both teams faced each other was 39 years ago in the 1978 Sun Bowl, where the Longhorns won 42-0.
Matchup: Maryland at Texas
Game time: 12 p.m. EST
The Terps are fresh off a 6-7 season, where they made an appearance in the Quicken Lane Bowl. Maryland is looking to build on last season, but the team is going to have a tough task out the gates as the Terps will have to deal with Texas and first year head coach Tom Herman.
“He [Herman] was a head coach at Houston. So, a lot of times when you actually have a first-time head coach, yeah there’s probably a little more unknowns there, of what exactly scheme-wise will be done and all that,” Durkin said. “I think there’s a pretty good history with Tom and what he did at Houston – they had great success there.”
The Terps understand the challenges they will deal with against the Longhorns, but that’s all apart of the game.
“We know we have a great challenge ahead of us. They’re a very talented team, just looking at them through their personnel from last year as well as in some of the scheme stuff that their coaching staff had at Houston,” Durkin said. “But I think the whole reason you play this game and come to a place like this is to play in these types of games.”
The Terps’ defense will have to deal with Texas’ sophomore quarterback Shane Buechele, who finished the 2016 season with 2,958 passing yards, 21 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.
“Buechele throws the ball really well, he looks like an accurate passer and he looks very comfortable executing the offense,” Durkin said. “I think he can execute what they want to do offensively very well, just in our evaluation of it.”
Maryland will be welcoming back linebacker Shane Cockerille, who missed the Terps’ bowl game after being declared academically ineligible. Cockerille started in 12 games and led the team in tackles.
“It means a lot. He fought his way back on to the football team,” Maryland’s defensive coordinator Andy Buh said. “He is one of four linebackers that we’re going to count on throughout the season.”
There is no question that Maryland’s strength will be its run game. Running backs Ty Johnson and Lorenzo Harrison ran for a combined 1,637 yards. Johnson became the ninth player in school history to reach the 1,000-yard mark, while averaging a team best 9.1 yards per carry.
“He’s [Johnson] proven to be special with the ball in his hands. Same with Lorenzo [Harrison],” offensive coordinator Walt Bell said. “So I could see those two guys getting the lion’s share of touches. They have proven that when they have the ball in their hands, they can be pretty effective.”