Ohio State is back in action Saturday against a flagging Maryland team that was shut out last week vs. Michigan. We check in with our Maryland publisher, Dave Lomonico, to get the low-down on the Terps.
1. So, has the quarterback situation been as bad as it looks?
Without a doubt. So bad in fact that offensive coordinator Mike Locksley called the passing attack "horrendous" and "non-existent" during his weekly press conference. Caleb Rowe, the starter the past two weeks, has an arm, but lacks football IQ and routinely misreads coverages. Backup Daxx Garman, a transfer from Oklahoma State, was rattled and lost when he entered the game. Garman supposedly has a strong arm and some savvy, but he looked like a quarterback who didn't know the playbook and lacked confidence. As for former starter Perry Hills, who should be reinserted this week, well, at least he's a tough guy and doesn't make as many mistakes. The problem with Hills is he doesn't have a strong arm and really isn't an FBS-level quarterback. But since he doesn't turn the ball over as much, he's now the starter again.
2. What are the kinds of things Mike Locksley is looking into to try to get the offense moving?
Honestly, it's hard to say, because everything they've tried has yet to work. The team in general lacks playmakers (outside of a couple of receivers) and Big Ten-caliber linemen, so that makes it difficult to move the ball regardless of scheme or play-calling. They've tried screens, short passes, quick slants and zone-running to try to control the clock and at least mount drives, but thus far no dice.
3. Maryland's defense seemed to do some nice things against Michigan; what are the strengths of the Terrapins team on defense?
The Terps do have a couple of solid down linemen who can control the line of scrimmage from time to time. Quinton Jefferson, a senior tackle, has played well all year. He's athletic, can press the backfield and make plays in space. Yannick Ngakoue, a 5-technique, looks to be a potential draft pick given his pass-rushing prowess and lateral agility.
Also, the secondary does feature one shut-down corner in Will Likely, who is probably the team's best all-around player. Likely is only 5-8, which limits his NFL potential, but he's a pure baller who excels in coverage and defending the run. He's a pure playmaker and always around the ball.
But besides those individuals, there's holes throughout the defense, namely in the linebacking core, which is young and inexperienced. The secondary can be exposed so long as teams throw away from Likely, while the front seven can be worn down as the game moves along (see the second half of the Michigan game).
4. How cool is Brad Craddock? It seems like the Aussie kicker is a fun guy on and off the field.
Yes, Craddock may be the face of the team right now. It's rare for a kicker to be considered a team leader, but this guy's work ethic and demeanor has truly rubbed off on his teammates. Believe it or not, he's actually looked up to in the locker room, seen more as a true football player than a specialist.
Maryland often trots Craddock out for pregame and postgame interviews, mainly because he knows how to handle himself and also because he's just a great guy to talk to. He always gives candid, well thought-out answers and is also extremely humble. A real pleasure to talk to and cover.
5. Is there any sort of feeling on the state of the program and the direction it is going under Randy Edsall? Is he on the hot seat?
If there is such a thing as different levels of "hot seat," Edsall would be on the "white-hot seat" right now. In fact, speculation is swirling that he could be let go after the Ohio State game since Maryland is on a bye next week and it would give the interim head coach two weeks to acclimate himself. If not next week, the consensus is Edsall may be out at the end of the year unless Maryland somehow rallies to make a bowl game (unlikely at this point).
It's hard to say the program is in disarray, because that's not the case. The kids here now do work very hard, and almost all of them are great students and ambassadors of the school. You have kids graduating under Edsall who are going on to work at Fortune 500 companies or entering large research firms. So in that sense, Edsall is developing true student-athletes, which is admirable. At the same time, there is a severe lack of talent throughout, which is becoming evident against top-tier Big Ten teams. Moreover, many of the "project" recruits brought in haven't developed as expected, which is partly an indictment on the staff/strength program.
The feeling is that while people appreciate what Edsall has tried to do, eventually you have to start winning games. This isn't the Ivy League; it's Big Ten football.