Each week, a reporter covering the Gophers’ opponent will be my guest to break down his or her team. This week, it’s Roman Stubbs of the Washington Post, who breaks down the Terrapins.
Q: What can we expect to see from Maryland’s offense this week with Max Bortenschlager at quarterback? Will there be any wrinkles, such as a Wildcat formation?
A: With a week of preparation, I expect Bortenschlager to be much more comfortable this week than in last Saturday’s loss to UCF. Obviously, Maryland will be more limited in the zone-read than with Tyrrell Pigrome or Kasim Hill under center – but I don’t think the offense will deviate from its up-tempo system that much. The Wildcat, with wide receiver DJ Moore and running backs Ty Johnson and Lorenzo Harrison, will definitely be in play.
Q: Which player is a bigger threat to the Minnesota defense, DJ Moore or Ty Johnson?
A: They’re both crucial but I’m going with Moore here. I think Minnesota will give away some perimeter access and Moore will be awfully important for Bortenschlager. He’s among the best in the country in breaking tackles and can win 50-50 balls, so Maryland needs to get him the ball to have success in the passing game. He also handles all of the return duties, so how he performs there could help dictate field position.
Q: How would you assess the rebuilding job that DJ Durkin has done, and are the Terps on the right track to be a Big Ten contender?
A: Durkin is stockpiling the roster with talent, that much is clear. Maryland is on pace to have consecutive top-20 recruiting classes. It’s evident that the depth along the offensive and defensive lines is much improved, which is crucial in this league. Durkin also has a new indoor facility to work with, which has accelerated recruiting efforts. On that end, I would say Maryland is on the right path. Whether that translates into the program becoming a contender in the most difficult division in college football remains to be seen.
Q: How big is Maryland football’s profile in such a large metro area with several professional sports options?
A: It’s growing, but obviously Washington is a unique market with plenty of competition with professional sports teams. It will take a breakthrough year for Durkin and his program to attract more fans and to find a foothold in such a competitive market.
Q: What is your prediction for Saturday’s game, and how did you arrive at the score?
A: Minnesota 31, Maryland 20. Not only will Maryland’s offense continue to search for an identity with its third quarterback in four games, but Minnesota’s running game is going to be a formidable challenge for this defense.