Some of Maryland's biggest issues during the 1-5 finish that followed the team's 5-2 start under first-year coach DJ Durkin surfaced during Monday's 36-30 loss to Boston College in the Quick Lane Bowl at Detroit's Ford Field.

These deficiencies will certainly be addressed by Durkin both in terms of recruiting as well as winter workouts and spring practice. A couple of them might require simply upgrading the talent, others are more long-term issues.


Here are the three biggest upgrades the Terps have to make to have a chance to get to at least six wins next season, when the non-conference schedule is markedly tougher with an opener at Texas and a tougher Big Ten schedule.

Finding a quarterback who can avoid sacks and be a more consistent passer: While a lot of the credit for the team's 4-0 start went to fifth-year senior Perry Hills, the blue-collar quarterback has to take some of the blame for the disappointing end to Durkin's first season.

Against Boston College, Hills looked more like the player who seemed to be looking over his shoulder his first three years under Randy Edsall. While Durkin said prior to the game that Hills was "healthier than he's been in a long time," he looked rusty and rushed against the Eagles, at least until the second half.

His final stats – 15 of 35 passing for 229 yards with two touchdowns and one interception – were not terrible. Granted, the offensive line was without injured senior tackle Michael Dunn and it struggled to protect Hills, but he didn't help himself on several of the eight sacks when he held the ball too long.

Hills also fumbled twice, was intercepted once and had a few shaky or completely botched exchanges from center that caused Walt Bell's playcalling to be compromised. It's remarkable what Bell did with Hills when he was healthy, giving some of his obvious limitations.

Right now it appears North Carolina transfer Caleb Henderson is the leader in the Gossett Team House to be next year's starter. He was recruited out of Lake Braddock (Va.) High, where he was a four-star prospect three years ago, as a dual-threat quarterback

Henderson could get some competition from incoming four-star prospect Kasim Hill from St. John's College High. Tyrrell  Pigrome, who was Hills' backup for most of the year, could be a candidate to be used as Wildcat quarterback and slot receiver.

Finding some playmakers on defense: The Terps lost their best  overall playmaker and arguably their best defensive player six games in when senior cornerback Will Likely III suffered a season-ending knee injury Oct. 15 against Minnesota.

Truth is, Likely wasn't making that many big plays at the time of his injury because opposing teams were throwing away from him and it was easy to find holes in the rest of the defense. That sophomore transfer JC Jackson was supposed to be a shutdown corner didn't exactly pan out.

Durkin was pretty enthusiastic about the play of redshirt freshman Isaiah Davis against Boston College. Davis, who got to start when redshirt junior Shane Cockerillle (Gilman) was ruled ineligible for the bowl game, finished with seven tackles – several of which probably made  his big brother Sean, now with the Steelers, smile.

Junior Jermaine Carter Jr., who played opposite Cockerille for the first 12 games of the season, finished two tackles ahead of Cockerille as the team's leading tackler. He also made seven tackles against the Eagles and had some moments of being a dominant defender, but needs to become even more of a monster as a senior.

Part of that might be in developing depth behind Carter, who could use a few plays off now and then to be more effective when games are on the line. That Carter and Cockerille played as much as they did spoke more of the team's lack of quality backups than it did about the kind of seasons they had.

Of the 16 true freshmen Durkin used in his first season, many of them were on defense. While he probably won't have to play as many next season, there are a few incoming freshmen who could see the field right away, including the Gaddy twins on the defensive line.

Getting better pass protection: Though the run-blocking schemes were stellar for much of the year in helping sophomore running back Ty Johnson rush for over 1,000 yards and Lorenzo Harrison get to the brink of breaking LaMont Jordan's freshman rushing record before being suspended for the last four games, the pass blocking was pretty bad as the competition improved.


Three of the four starters in Monday's game return for next season, but the inconsistent play by former four-star prospects such as Damian Prince and Terrance Davis have raised questions about whether their starting jobs will be challenged in the spring and beyond as Durkin continues to bring in other four-star recruits.

If the 6-3, 215-pound Henderson is the starting quarterback, he's going to be a pretty big target for defenses. It's also going to take some time for him to adjust after sitting this season and he's going to have to develop chemistry with what likely be a new group of receivers except for sophomore D.J. Moore.

If Hill gets on the field, he too will need to make the transition from high school, as Pigrome did this season.

If Durkin plans to rotate the offensive linemen as much next season as he did this year – though some might argue the constant shuffling might have turned out to be as big a problem for the Terps than for their competition – he's going to have to find a replacement at least for Dunn, whose presence was missed Monday.

There's probably a bigger pool of candidates on the offensive line than at any position, given the number already in the program and those who've committed. It wouldn't be shocking to see some who don't think they'll be on the two-deep next season to leave and others help fill some holds on the defensive line, which loses defensive end Roman Braglio and noseguard Azubuike Ukandu (Towson High).

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