Three takeaways from Maryland's 5-7 football season

The question seemed to catch Maryland interim coach and offensive coordinator Matt Canada a bit off-guard.

In the news conference after Saturday’s season-ending 38-3 loss to No. 12 Penn State at Beaver Stadium, Canada was asked what he would do with the game film.

“I’ll probably put this away for a little while,” Canada said. “It’s not going to matter. We’ll grade it for our kids, like we always do. There were plays there to make, better calls to make. Like any game you lose.

“Again, that’s the hard part for us as coaches when you have a couple of plays here or there, you don’t get to make ’em. I don’t know why we missed some of the plays we missed today. But we did. It all falls on me.”

Here are three takeaways from Maryland’s 5-7 season:

1. Canada did a great job keeping the Terps together as their interim coach, but did it compromise him being a better offensive coordinator?

From the start, Canada said he had to adjust to calling games from the field rather than from the coaches’ box. As the interim coach, he also had to adjust to even talking to defensive players during a game.

There were times when he seemed comfortable in the dual role, but more often than not, he appeared to be more the caretaker than the head coach. It was only after DJ Durkin was fired Oct. 31 that Canada stopped correcting those who called him “coach.”

It’s impossible to say what would have happened with Canada had Durkin not been put on administrative leave or had he remained on the job after being reinstated for a little more than a day in late October.

That inconsistency in the play-calling — sometimes overly cautious, at other times taking unnecessarily gambles — might put some doubt about Canada in athletic director Damon Evans’ mind when he decides on who’ll replace Durkin on a permanent basis.

But there’s no doubt that this was a difficult situation for Canada on many levels, and he did a pretty good job handling it.

2. The Terps still have a problem developing elite quarterbacks.

Perhaps this is a byproduct of Canada’s dual role, and the fact that he didn’t get a chance to work with either redshirt freshman Kasim Hill or redshirt sophomore Tyrrell Pigrome after he took over as offensive coordinator in January since both quarterbacks were rehabilitating from torn ACLs.

Maybe it also has to do with the fact that both quarterbacks were coming off missing nearly all or most of last season with their injuries, and having enough live repetitions when this season began to make a quantum leap.

Now Hill will be coming back from a torn ACL for a second straight year — in a different knee — and Pigrome showed in the last two games as a starter that he is capable of making big plays with his arm and feet, but is also prone to making mistakes.

There was a scene on the sideline Saturday that was picked up by the ABC broadcast crew when Canada implored Pigrome to trust the system. No matter who is coaching Maryland next season, the coach will have to seriously re-evaluate the quarterback position.

3. Maryland didn’t have the depth to compete in the Big Ten East this season, so what will next season look like if recruiting is a problem?

As the injuries piled up, especially on the offensive and defensive lines, the Terps just couldn’t compete with the likes of Michigan State, Penn State and even Ohio State to some extent.

The losses of starting offensive guard Terrance Davis the past few weeks and Sean Christie for the Penn State game eventually took their toll Saturday when Maryland managed just 74 yards rushing.

Equally problematic was the absence of valuable backups Brett Kulka and Bryce Brand from the defense, since the drop-off from the starters to the third-stringers is even more dramatic.

This is where recruiting the next couple of years could become an issue.

Unless players who redshirted this season such as Austin Fontaine and the Gaddy twins are ready to go next year, will the Terps have any depth on the defensive line as players such as Kulka, Mbi Tanyi and Byron Cowart move on?

don.markus@baltsun.com

twitter.com/sportsprof56

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