Esquire from Turtle Waxing was kind enough to answer some questions about Maryland to preview Thursday's game. Visit his blog for news and insight on the Terps as well as my answers to his questions.
Q: A lot of people, including me, have said this Maryland team is Jekyll and Hyde. While the MTSU loss can be explained by early season growing pains and playing the wrong quarterback, the 31-0 loss to UVa defies explanation. What was the key to that game, other than UVa stopping the Terps rush attack?
I think the Virginia game was about half overconfidence by Maryland and half what Virginia did to execute their gameplan. Clearly Virginia is much better than they were at the beginning of the season and the game against Maryland is when they turned it around. The Maryland staff isn't great at preparing this group or this group isn't great at motivating themselves, depending on who is talking. I think there isn't great senior leadership on this Maryland team and that certainly doesn't help.
On offense Virginia had both Cedric Peerman and Kevin Ogletree back and healthy, which makes the Cavs an entirely different team. Virginia exploited Maryland's weakness on the edge with lots of runs off tackle and in the short passing game. The spots between the linebackers and safety have been a problem for the defense all season.
Maryland's coordinator Chris Cosh got conservative and didn't bring any pressure on the untested Virginia QB. His game plans are almost schizophrenic. On defense Virginia dominated Maryland's offensive line. The linebackers were very aggressive in shooting the gaps to stop Maryland's running game. Once you shut down Da'Rel Scott or Davin Meggett the offense is very ordinary.
Q: Do you think the Terps have improved to the point they won't have another implosion like that on the road?
The offensive line is playing better but I still think the defense has at least another egg to lay against a good offense. I wouldn't be surprised if they lost badly again, especially on the road. This game is obviously their most difficult road game, probably of the season.
Q: Maryland has played very well since Chris Turner took over for Jordan Steffy. What does Napoleon Dynamite bring to the table that has improved the way the offense has performed?
Turner can make all the throws he needs to make, though he tends to under throw the deep ball. He is very steady and poised even in the face of a good pass rush. He is unlikely to get rattled by a crowd even if he makes a mistake. His third down numbers are excellent. Steffy is a immobile check down passer. He can get rattled by the pass rush and turns into a dink and dunk passer immediately looking for the outlet receiver. In short Turner can get the ball into the playmakers hands.
Q: Both Maryland's defense and Virginia Tech's offense have struggled this year. Which side is going to win when the Hokies have the ball?
I couldn't say who will win that battle. Maryland is hurting at linebacker and corner which may nullify some of Virginia Tech's problems on offense. Maryland would have more trouble with scramblers like Holt and Taylor than Glennon so that will be worth watching. The staffs have had a long time to gameplan for this matchup but I wouldn't put money on Chris Cosh winning any kind of coaching chess match.
Q: Q: Who has greater job security right now? Fridge or Gary Williams?
I'd still go with Gary Williams. I think the hot seat stories about him are overblown and mostly written by media types who don't know the terrain in College Park. Williams has done more for the University, beyond the basketball program, than outsiders realize. The basketball program has much higher expectations than the football program certainly. Many fans expect the basketball team to contend for national titles and be in the NCAA tournament every year. Friedgen doesn't labor under those kinds of standards. Despite that I think Williams could survive a 5-11 or 6-10 ACC season while Friedgen would be in big trouble if this team had gone 4-8 or something similar.
Q: Has the focus at Maryland shifted any toward football after a couple of down years for the Terp hoopsters or is it still very much a basketball school?
Maryland is still a basketball school. Even with the recent mediocrity Maryland has more ACC wins since expansion than any programs besides Duke and North Carolina. While a 7-5 record and a fringe bowl game may satisfy the majority of fans being on the NCAA bubble, which is harder than going to a bowl game, won't cut it with most Maryland basketball fans. Many fans still consider Maryland an elite basketball program given the history, traditions and facilities while the football program doesn't carry nearly that kind of prestige. If the basketball program went into a late 1980's downward spiral maybe that would change but I don't see that happening any time soon. There is still an element left over from the Bobby Ross days that prefers football but it is a minority.