Our SBN brethren over at Testudo Times were kind enough to sit down and answer some questions for us. This should help get Turtle Week AND Trutle Week going strong!
"Forced to name a Maryland player, I'd go with Vernon Davis. Or perhaps Steve Blake. Who are some actual players on your football team, and why should Cal fans worry about them?"
This year's team has a few players who probably should be better known around the nation. Darrius Heyward-Bey is one of them; he challenges Michael Crabtree as the best receiver in the nation. He's very underutilized, but has 4.2 speed and a pretty big body. Da'Rel Scott leads the ACC in rushing by 100 yards, and has uncanny quickness and vision. Dave Philistin is the middle linebacker, and is a tackle machine. He's not spectacular, but expect his name to be called a lot. He has a nose for the ball.
"Maryland's loss to Middle Tennessee State was noted by the Washington Time as 'the most embarrassing of Ralph Friedgen's eight-year tenure.' Was that game an aberration, or are there serious flaws on this team that will cause them to struggle in even a down ACC, possibly leading to Coach Friedgen's dismissal?"
Simply, we don't know yet. Ralph's teams have a tendency to start slow. UMD's lost to Southern Illinois before and pulled out a good year. I don't think this team is as good as that one, but they certainly shouldn't have lost to Middle Tennessee State.
I don't think Fridge will be canned after this year even if the Terps' season was absolutely god-awful simply because much of the fan base still feels that the university "owes him" for resurrecting the program. But I could certainly see a very difficult ACC year in College Park this season.
Here's how I've always looked at it: at least we're not a turkey, a tree nut, a deacon, or a condom.
"Turtle Eating A Condom! Take that, USC~!" via www.treehugger.comDescribe the performance of Maryland thus far this season. Have they exceeded or failed to exceed expectations?
Definitely failed to meet expectations. The team was expected to easily blow through their first two opponents, and instead Delaware seriously challenged them, and they obviously lost to MTSU. Most people were saying that Maryland would be one of the most improved teams in the nation, and they've certainly come up short so far this year.
I'd have to take Alex Mack. Da'Rel Scott, the Terps' running back, is good enough for me to not really envy Jahvid Best all that much, but the line isn't great. As much as I love Edwin Williams (UMD's center), I think Alex Mack would be a great addition.
Your guess is as good as mine. I'm holding out hope that the coaches will run Scott into the ground, and when they're not running, throw the ball to Heyward-Bey. So far this year, they haven't done that. Scott leads the ACC in rushing, and he was given 11 carries against MTSU. If everything stays similar to the past two games, expect to see a lot of short-to-mid passes, and a lot of three-and-outs.
The Terps may not be able to do much, but by god they can turn nothing into a huge play. They probably have the two biggest (and unknown) weapons in the ACC in Scott and Heyward-Bey; both can take it to the house as soon as they get the ball, meaning that a few big plays could keep them close.
Keep the rushes short. As long as it's the linebackers making the tackles, defensive coordinator Chris Cosh should be happy. Eventually, the defense will make a stop, but if Best can get into the secondary, no one back there has a chance. I expect to see a good amount of safety blitzes, as well.
"An easy way to stop Jahvid Best." via www.3dmd.net
"What Maryland QB gives the Terps the best chance for victory on Saturday?"
It all depends which one shows up. If the Chris Turner of last year shows up, then it'll be him. If it's the Turner of last Saturday, it'll be a blowout. I don't think it would be Jordan Steffy in any situation, but Josh Portis can be a very dangerous weapon. He was originally at Florida, but ended up transferring. He's incredibly fast and athletic, and even has a good arm. Mentally, he doesn't grasp the game well enough to start, but he may end up seeing the majority of snaps if neither Turner nor Steffy can get the job done (and I don't think they can).
"Are there any last things you'd like to tell Cal fans about the upcoming Cal-Maryland game?"
Honestly, Cal should win this game. Really, the only chance I see of Maryland challenging is in a situation that Cal is overly cocky coming off a big win and overlooks Maryland, and the Terps have to have a chip on their shoulder, which has happened in the past after a big win. If that happens, it'll be a game. Maryland is certainly capable of winning if they play up to their potential, but after the debacle of the past two weeks, I can't really see it.