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Friends with Bennies: Maryland

Q&A with Testudo Times


Welcome back to Friends With Bennies, where we sit down with opposing bloggers to talk about their team. Today it's Pete Volk and Alex Kirshner from Testudo Times. We answered a few questions for them too, which you can find here.

1. To the casual observer Ralph Friedgen seemed to be doing a solid job. What went wrong? Were fans happy to see him leave?

Testudo Times' manager Pete Volk: Friedgen was doing a solid job, and that was part of the problem. Kevin Anderson described the decision basically as wanting to go from "good to great". Besides that final year, Friedgen had not seen success in a while (and never with his own recruits), and there was not a lot of confidence that he could ever lift Maryland out of an eight-win ceiling. There was certainly a large (older) contingent that was upset to see him go, but I would say most of the younger fans were happy with the decision. Despite the records, Edsall has come in and not only outrecruited Friedgen, but raised Maryland's APR -- which had been a problem under the former coach.

A sum up? Maryland had seen how far they thought Friedgen could take them, and they wanted more.

2. From some of the comments on our recent posts, it seems as though we have severely underestimated your opinion on Randy Esdall. How is he currently viewed by the Maryland fan-base at this point in time? Is this a make or break year for him? And if so, what are the expectations?

Testudo Times Staff Writer Alex Kirshner: Edsall's been an easy punching bag in the past, in part because he's a hard-line coach who jumped ship unceremoniously from a school he was at for over a decade, came to College Park as this big, tough guy and then won six games in his first two years. But Edsall's done a nice job stocking Maryland's cupboard with talented players -- Stefon Diggs, of course, but also JuCo guys and plenty of other talent from around Maryland and Washington, D.C. He's sinking his teeth deep into the program, and most are optimistic that the team is moving in the right direction. This probably is a make-or-break year for Edsall, but I don't think the Terps will flop badly enough for him to be in any real danger. Anything short of a bowl game, though, and there will be serious problems.

3. How is the move to the Big 10 going over with fans? It's obviously a great conference but is there a feeling that Maryland is leaving too much tradition behind, particularly in basketball?

There are two distinctly different schools of thought on this. The first (which I happen to share) is that Maryland's going to a better conference with boatloads more money, and we won't miss playing in a conference run by Mike Krzyzewski and Roy Williams. The second is that the school is crazy for leaving behind decades of tradition to make a quick buck, moving laterally in basketball and marching its overmatched self to slaughter on the football field. I think most people take the first position, but there's absolutely a faction that will always oppose the move. Younger fans like me are generally stronger supporters than older fans with deep, visceral attachments to the ACC.

4. When we played you last year, your quarterback situation was dire, and across the season it got worse. How do you feel about CJ Brown? Assuming the football gods don't screw you again, what kind of QB should we expect to see this Saturday?

Pretty great. Look, Maryland started a true freshman linebacker at quarterback for a third of last season. It was absurd. So any warm body who was actually recruited as a QB was going to be an upgrade. But Brown has shattered all expectations in the first two games, and even though Florida International and Old Dominion are cupcakes, it's been quite impressive. Through two starts, Brown has completed 75 percent of his passes for nearly 600 yards and five touchdowns. He hasn't been intercepted, and he's run for 135 yards and two touchdowns. Those numbers won't keep up forever, of course, but he could not possibly have kicked his year off any better. On Saturday, you'll see a legitimate dual-threat quarterback, one who finally has his health after a tough-luck ACL tear before last season.

5. Besides Stefon Diggs what are Maryland's biggest strengths that UConn fans should worry most about going into this game?

Unquestionably, UConn should worry about Maryland's receiving group. Diggs is one of the five best wideouts in the nation, a combination of speed, agility and hands that the Terps haven't had in, well, forever. Behind him, they've got junior Deon Long, a top JuCo pickup from last offseason who figures to be one of the best No. 2 options in the country, too. Nigel King, the third receiver, is a talented pass-catcher in his own right. To his credit, Edsall has built up some depth behind those three and at tight tend, so Brown has lots of capable athletes at his disposal.

6. Who in the NFL does Stefon Diggs most resemble? Is he a shoo-in to leave after his junior year?

I see a lot of Percy Harvin, but that's just me. Diggs is a classic field-stretcher, except he can also run short and intermediate routes, make NSFW one-handed catches and kill you in the return game. He's very hard to tackle. If Diggs doesn't leave for the NFL after his junior year, he'll either be badly injured or completely insane. Barring one of those, he should be a shoo-in first-round pick and contribute quickly in the NFL.

7. What would UConn have to do to win this game?

To win, the Huskies's pass-rushers need to get behind Maryland's questionable, inexperienced offensive line. If Brown has time to throw, his receivers will get open, and UConn will be on the short end of a track meet they can't afford to run in. But if they can harass Brown, thereby giving Diggs and Co. less time to run free, they'll have a shot. They also need to score points on Maryland's defense, which has been surprisingly (to me, anyway) stout thus far.

8. Your Prediction?

Terrapins 35, Huskies 24. This will be closer than some people think, but I do think Maryland's offense will run up a high enough point total to win a game on the road.