Chris B over at Turtle Droppings approached me with a Question and Answer session opportunity earlier in the week and I gladly participated with him, so this week you will get double the UMd perspective, as ggggmen worked with Testudo Times earlier in the week. You'll find my questions and his answers below.
Ralph Friedgen gave us fits at both Tech and Maryland over the years so we Clemson fans were not exactly sad to see him go. What does Maryland miss the most from Coach Friedgen and what do the Terps miss the least about him? Would you have been happy with James Franklin had Maryland decided just to bump him up after last season?
I think Maryland misses the continuity they had with Friedgen and his staff. Sure things were getting a little stagnant under Friedgen, but his philosophy won 9 games (against an easier schedule) last year. One thing I personally like more about Edsall is he is a little more aggressive in going for it on fourth down or mixing up the play calling. It doesn't always workout, but under Friedgen things got a little to conservative and predictable.
Regarding Franklin, hindsight is a beautiful thing. At the time I was ready for a new philosophy (Friedgen and Franklin were very similar). However, O'Brien was perfect for that system, and it would be nice to have O'Brien playing in a system he was really comfortable with. I think Franklin would have done ok at Maryland. He was starting to really get a nice relationship with the local high school coaches and his recruiting certainly could have helped him, but he was not going to create a huge buzz locally, (not that Edsall did when he was hired).
How would you rate Randy Edsall's performance so far?
I am going to answer this twofold. First, it was no secret he is trying to rebuild "The Program". And he has done a pretty good job of that. He is very active trying to get people involved. He uses Twitter quite a bit, and is really trying to sell Maryland Football to a tough market. Unfortunately, the thing that brings people to Byrd is wins. And to that point, he has lost all the buzz that was created after the Miami win. It seems every opponent quickly figured out our offense after seeing the Miami tape. There are reports of players not happy with how he is running things and his style may be rubbing people the wrong way. That being said he is dealing with a program that lost scholarships due to the low APR score, and also lost practice time due to breaking some rules on practice time (both under Friedgen). We won't know how he has done until the recruiting class is finalized in February, but right now that isn't looking so hot either. It is tough to grade a guy on 5 games, but above I mentioned rebuilding "The Program". This current team didn't need to be rebuilt, but he trying to do things his way, and the current personnel isn't suited for everything he is trying to do. It just hasn't gone real well on the field, and at the end of the day, thats what really matters, so I guess I would have to say has some work to do to win people over.
C.J. Brown took over for Danny O'Brien last week and nearly led the Terps to a win against undefeated Georgia Tech. Can you compare the two signal callers for us and tell us who you think we will see the most of (Brown or O'Brien) on Saturday?
Well, the first thing you need to do is wipe any preconceived thoughts you have on Danny O'Brien based on last season. If you expect to see a signal caller that makes good reads, and accurate passes, you need to look else where right now. O'Brien has regressed, and has looked lost at times and doesn't appear to have any confidence. His decision making has been poor, and his accuracy is not as good as it was last year. That being said, I totally believe he gets out of this funk at some point. The kid is talented, dedicated, and capable. It just isn't going well for him right now.
C.J. is the complete opposite of O'Brien. He has some speed, and can run an option attack, where O'Brien is really a drop back QB who isn't going to make a ton of plays with his feet. His passing against Georgia Tech was about as good as O'Brien's, and that isn't saying much. He can make something out of nothing with his feet, but he threw several passes that were nowhere near the receiver. Whether it was bad passing or not being in sync with his receivers, I'm not sure, but they weren't pretty.
I truly expect O'Brien to get the bulk of the action early. I think Edsall knows he is the best he has, and just needs him to get some confidence back. However, I do think Edsall is going to give Brown some reps as well. Whether it's a couple of drives here and there, or a special package, I'm not sure, but I do expect to see a little of Brown.
Senior Davin Meggett had over 700 yards rushing last season and currently boasts a YPC right at 5. How important is this young man to the Maryland offense and what is your take regarding Meggett vs. the Clemson defense this weekend?
Meggett, given a little space can get some yards. Sometimes it doesn't take much to get him a hole. He seems a little more explosive this year. The problem I see for Meggett is the offensive line. Against a bigger, more physical line against Temple, Meggett didn't have a great game. Maryland's offensive line struggled. The Terps lost Andrew Gonella for the season last week, and that is not going to help Meggett or Justus Pickett's chances back there. I think Clemson's defensive front could give Maryland fits all night. Maryland is not going to beat Clemson throwing bubble screens all night, so getting Meggett going will be a key for the offense.
The Clemson offense is sparked by Freshman Sammy Watkins (WR) and Junior Dwayne Allen (TE) amongst others through the air. How do you see the Maryland defense-secondary in particular-matching up against Clemson this week? Is there anything specifically we should pay close attention to on the UMd defense?
Look for some big numbers for the Clemson passing attack. They may try some trick or gimmick formations to try and keep Watkins in check, but even if that is mildly successful, I expect someone else to do damage. Maryland's secondary has been suspect. Cameron Chism has been picked on at times, and he is supposed to be our best corner, so that ought to tell you how things are going back there.
As far as the defense goes overall, Kenny Tate didn't play against Georgia Tech. He is the best player on defense, even though his move to linebacker has not paid off like anyone would have hoped. Keep an eye on Joe Vellano. He had 14 solo tackles and 20 overall from his tackle position. Of course that was against run heavy Georgia Tech, but it could have very easily been someone in the second or third layer of the defense to record all those tackles. Vellano played really well, and if he can keep that up, it might help the defense.
The UMd vs Miami game featured an opening night crowd that was very much into the football game. I cannot recall Clemson playing in Byrd Stadium at night in quite a while. With UMd sitting at 2-3, what do you expect the atmosphere to be like and how difficult will the crowd be for CU's offense?
I expect there will be a fair share of Orange in Byrd. Not a Virginia Tech style takeover, but there will be a bit of Tiger fans I am sure. That said, it is a night game, and that should get the students into it. Clemson comes in highly ranked, and that usually draws some people out. If Maryland can keep it close, it will be a tough crowd for Clemson. If Clemson comes in and takes a big first quarter lead like WVU and Temple were able to do, it will be a walk in the park, but if Maryland can stay in the game through halftime the crowd could very well make it tough.
Maryland has been creative (to say the least) with its uniform selection this season. What is your personal preference in UMd gear and what should we expect to see Saturday?
Growing up in Maryland and going to Maryland, I loved the Maryland Pride uniforms. Sure they were ugly don't get me wrong, but I loved what they were supposed to be. As far as the 32 combinations we can parade out there, I think that is a little excessive, but if that's an edge for us with these kids, I don't care what they wear. We aren't Penn State or Michigan, so why not stay with the times?
As far as what I expect to see this weekend, I imagine it will be a red top with the white turtle shell helmet. It is homecoming, and under Friedgen Maryland wore red jerseys and pants for homecoming. I am not sure what color the bottoms will be, but my guess is they could go with the red on red look or maybe red on black. The captains make their selection on Wednesday, and Edsall tweet's it right after practice.