The new era of Maryland Terrapins football will officially begin this week as the team kicks off spring practice.
As most know, Michael Locksley takes over the Terrapins program after DJ Durkin was put on administrative leave before the season started stemming from an investigation into the football program following a series of incidents, the most significant being the tragic death of offensive lineman Jordan McNair, who passed away in June from heatstroke suffered during a late May team workout. Then-offensive coordinator Matt Canada was named interim head coach and Durkin was eventually fired on Oct. 31. Locksley hopes to move the Maryland program in the right direction after last season's tragedy and turmoil.
On the field, the Terrapins began the season 5-3 under Canada, but lost their final four games, including a heartbreaking 52-51 home loss to Ohio State on Nov. 17.
5 Storylines to Watch During Maryland's Spring Practice
1. What to expect from the Maryland offense?
Michael Locksley comes over from Alabama where he was team's offensive coordinator along with their wide receivers coach in 2017 when the Crimson Tide won the national title.
While at Alabama, Locksley's offense loved to use the running back by committee approach along with throwing the ball down the field. Although Maryland doesn't have a quarterback with the skills of Tua Tagovailoa, Terrapin fans can expect a similar look this fall.
2. QB competition
After making the move to College Park, Locksley tried to convince his former quarterback Jalen Hurts to transfer from Alabama, but he decided to go to Oklahoma instead. However, the Terrapins were able to land transfer Josh Jackson from Virginia Tech and Lance LeGendre, a 4-star recruit from New Orleans.
The problem is Jackson and LeGendre won't arrive until the summer, so Maryland won't have a full arsenal of quarterbacks during spring camp. Tyrrell Pigrome, who played in 10 games a season ago, will have a chance to show the coaches what he can do before Jackson and LeGendre get to campus.
3. Offensive line
Maryland lost three of its five starters up front. So who are the guys that will protect the quarterback this fall?
Johnny Jordan will be the Terrapins' starting center most likely. Terrance Davis, Sean Christie are possibilities for the guard spots with Marcus Minor likely to claim one of the starting tackle jobs. The other tackle spot is up for grabs and will likely be decided either after the spring or in the fall.
4. Can Maryland's defense improve?
The Terrapins' defense has room to improve after giving up 29 points and nearly 400 yards per game. That job will fall to new defensive coordinator Jon Hoke. Hoke is a veterean defensive coach with nearly 40 years of experience. Besides being a defensive coordinator Florida, South Carolina, and Kent State, he also has served as a defensive backs coach in the NFL for three different teams, most recently the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Maryland's defensive line was an area of weakness a year ago where the team was often dominated at the point of attack. But with the players returning including Adam McLean, there's no reason to believe the Terrapins won't get better in that area.
5. How much improvement can Maryland have?
Obviously, there's a long wait until the Terrapins' Aug. 31 season opener against FCS member Howard. But the biggest question entering the spring is how much improvement can Maryland make in Year 1 under Locksley?
The Terrapins will have a tough Big Ten schedule with games against Michigan, Penn State, a road date with Ohio State. The non-conference slate features a home game with Syracuse and a trip to Temple.
A bowl game in 2019 could be asking a lot from the Terrapins. However, they do get a lot of their toughest opponents at home, so that could potentially help them match or surpass last year's win total.
— Written by Antwan Staley, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and has extensive experience covering Florida sports teams. Staley has written for Bleacher Report, the Miami Herald and the Palm Beach Post and is a reporter for Pro Player Insiders. Follow him on Twitter @antwanstaley.