College Park, Md. — With a new quarterback and a playbook that pays homage to Alabama’s dynamic attack, Maryland’s offense under first-year coach Michael Locksley has the potential to be diverse and exciting.
“This offense has a lot of weapons,” said quarterback Josh Jackson, a 6-foot-2, 220-pound junior transfer from Virginia Tech who went to high school in Saline. “We have a chance to surprise a lot of people because we’re going to have a great offense.”
Jackson will be the starter based on his performance in summer practice and his 2017 season with the Hokies. He threw for 20 touchdowns and ran for six scores at Virginia Tech.
Combine Jackson with 1,000-yard rusher Anthony McFarland Jr., throw in a few speedy receivers and top it all with award-winning tight end Tyler Mabry, and you’ve got an unit that can strike in a variety of ways.
Locksley and the new-look Terps make their debut Saturday at home against Howard. After spending the past three years helping run Alabama’s offense, including last season as the coordinator when the Crimson Tide rang up 45.6 points and 522 yards per game, Locksley can’t wait to see how this team fares.
“It’s a Maryland offense now,” Locksley declared Tuesday. “Obviously, me coming from Alabama as a play caller, the systems will be similar. But you always have to start with evaluating your personnel. If you ask me philosophically, the key is to get as many touches to the best players on offense.”
That list begins with Jackson, who last year was on his way to duplicating the success he enjoyed in 2017 before a leg injury cut his season after three games.
McFarland last year became the first Maryland freshman with four 100-yard rushing games, including a whopping 298 against Ohio State, and he finished with 1,034 yards rushing — most by a freshman in school history.
Receiver Donte Demus Jr. caught three passes for over 50 yards in 2018, and the 6-4, 250-pound Mabry is a sure-handed transfer from Buffalo, where he was named first-team All-Mid American Conference.
Any one of them is capable of going the distance each time they touch the football.
“Coach Lock’s offense is designed to get the playmakers the ball in space, and I feel that’s what he’s going to do,” McFarland said. “We have a lot of talent on the offense, a lot of depth.
“We’re ready to showcase that.”
A year ago, Maryland’s offense was ranked 94th in the Football Bowl Subdivision.
This year, McFarland insists, will be different.
“It might be coming from Alabama,” said Jackson, “but we’re going to have our own twist on it and make it very good.”
Graduate transfer Alex Delton will be the starting quarterback for TCU’s opener, and true freshman Max Duggan also will play in the first quarter against Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Saturday.
... New Hampshire football coach Sean McDonnell is taking an indefinite leave for health reasons. The school, which participates in the Football Championship Subdivision, did not elaborate on the condition of the 62-year-old coach.