We have a double dip of Maryland question and answer this week, as the folks over at TurtleDroppings asked us to participate in another Q&A session which we were happy to do. Look for our answers to their questions on their site and see their replies to our inquiries below.
Head Coach Ralph Friedgen has been on the hot seat in Maryland, particularly after last seasons disappointing performance (and yes, Clemson did fall victim to the Terps). Maryland has gotten off to a good start this year with the lone blemish coming against a respectable West Virginia squad. What will it take for Ralph to get the go ahead to finish out his contract at Maryland?
Turtle Droppings: Had former AD Debbie Yow not left for NC State, she made it very clear Maryland needed to get to a bowl game for him to keep his job. Now that Kevin Anderson is the AD, I really don't know what his feelings are. He hasn't really shown his hand yet as he has only officially been the AD since October 1st. I do feel that the fans are really looking for a change though regardless of how this season plays out. And by change, I don't think most fans would be enamored with James Franklin being named the head coach.
Reports surfaced late last season that Friedgen resented Maryland naming James Franklin the coach in waiting. Have you seen any dissention between the two over the past 11 months and could this issue rear its ugly head if the Terps experience shortcomings over the next few weeks?
Turtle Droppings: On the surface, everyone is playing nice. Friedgen did make it known he wasn't really ready to leave after his contract was up, but I think deep down he knew his time was coming to an end. I do know Kevin Anderson did mention he didn't like the Head Coach in Waiting title as he thinks it could cause dissension amongst the coaches. I suppose it is possible it could be brewing between Friedgen and Franklin.
Maryland’s passing game has struggled to date, as the Terps sit ranked 102 in NCAA 1-A averaging a little over 160 ypg in this category. Can you elaborate on how Jamarr Robinson’s injury has affected Maryland’s play and what Danny O'Brien and the Terp offense will need to do to improve in this area?
Turtle Droppings: Well, it appears the time off against Duke, and the bye have given Robinson the time he needs to get healthy. Whether he is the spark to ignite the Maryland passing attack is really doubtful. He didn't play well against Navy, and in West Virginia, if you take the big plays to Torrey Smith away, he didn't do much there either. In my mind he looked more comfortable last season passing. As far as Danny O'Brien is concerned, he just needs to calm down a little. He seems to really understand the offense, and makes the correct decisions, but at times he has missed some receivers that were open. I think the more and more time he gets under center, the better he will get. It is really just about getting reps I believe. Oh, and it wouldn't hurt for the O-line to give them both a little more time.
Coach Friedgen has historically been a thorn in Clemson’s side, dating back to his days as Georgia Tech’s offensive coordinator. What will RF and the entire team attempt to do to win in Death Valley this Saturday?
Turtle Droppings: It really boggles my mind how Maryland has been able to beat Clemson these last couple of trips to Death Valley. I honestly don't think Maryland should have won. That being said, I think Friedgen will try and play both quarterbacks this week. He really believes playing them both makes the Terps a more dangerous team. I think you will see a good bit of quick passes and WR screens to try and get the QB's in the flow and to get the ball out so the line doesn't have to block as long. I also think he is married to the fact that they need to get Da'Rel Scott and Davin Meggett going early. The problem with the Maryland running attack, is most of their yards have come on huge runs. When they need to get 2, 3, or 4 yards to sustain a drive, they have had problems. They need to convert some of those to give the defense a break.
Clemson has been rather inconsistent offensively this year and has given up (defensively) some big plays and crucial 3rd/4th down conversions. We anticipate (per Dabo Swinney’s Sunday presser) that Clemson will feature Andre Ellington more moving forward. Can Maryland stop our best back and has Maryland shown you to this point that they can take advantage of missed defensive assignments (Clemson has had quite a few recently) on Saturday?
Turtle Droppings: Maryland has thrived on the big play. Torrey Smith, Da'Rel Scott, and Meggett have combined for 6 scores of 50 or more yards. Throw in the two punt returns for TD's by Tony Logan, and you can see how the Terps have lived by the big play. So far this season, when they have needed one, they have gotten it to spark the offense. As far as 3rd down conversions go, Maryland has not faired all that well. So far on the season Maryland has converted only 24% of their 3rd downs (good enough for last in the Conference). On the defensive side they are allowing 44% conversions (also last in the conference). Stopping anyone has been a struggle this year. Maryland has allowed teams to march up and down the field, but some how they have stiffened in the redzone. If Kyle Parker is sharp he will be able to put up big numbers as receivers have run wide open most of the season. To this point they haven't faced a great QB. They are going to allow a ton of yards, the question will be if they can continue to get the stops when they need to, and continue forcing the turnovers.
It was nice to see the Maryland/Navy rivalry played again this year. What game in particular do you guys (as a fan base) insist on winning and what former rival would you like to play again?
Turtle Droppings: You know Maryland is kind of in tough spot. We don't have that natural rival. Everyone we like to consider a rival has a bigger rival. Navy has Army, UVA has Tech, West Virginia has Pitt. The list goes on and on. Personally I like the Navy game. I think it is good for both schools and the state as a whole. However, the game I really enjoy is the West Virginia game. There is a bit of hatred there, and it is always a good road trip. There have been some good games over the years, and the series is separated by two games I believe. Some of the older fans would like to see the rivalry with Penn State reinstated. I would like to see that one as well, though in order for it to be a true rivalry Maryland needs to beat PSU! That being said on a personal note, some of my closest Maryland friends have siblings and best friends that went to Clemson. So, if you ask them, they would say Clemson hands down!