Behind Enemy Lines: Scouting Maryland Football

To get ready for Saturday's kickoff between Rutgers and Maryland, Scarlet Report caught up with Terp guru Dave Lomonico of Terrapin Times. We discuss life after the Maryland coaching change and keys to victory at High Point Solutions Stadium.

1.) How motivated is Maryland for this game? Does Maryland want revenge for last season or do the Terps just want this season to end?

Dave Lomonico of Terrapin Times “There isn't really a black-and-white answer for this one. It's more like the team is in somewhat of a gray area. On one hand, they are motivated to go out on a winning note and give interim head coach Mike Locksley his first victory. The team generally played hard for Locksley, mainly because they like him personally and appreciate his policies, which are more lenient than ex-head coach Randy Edsall's. On the other hand, the squad does seem somewhat demoralized after losing eight straight games. It was fairly clear during Maryland's last game against Indiana, when the Hoosiers began storming back, the Terps had lost their will and were going through the motions.

So I think if Maryland jumps out to an early lead Nov. 28, the Terps could be motivated to finish strong. But if they fall behind, it's possible they could throw in the towel and start looking forward to the offseason.”

2.) The 0-7 Big Ten record appears deceptive when you look at some of the games. What did Maryland do well to scare teams like Penn State, Iowa and Wisconsin?

DL – “The record is somewhat deceptive, but I'm a believer in the old Bill Parcell's cliche: You are what your record says you are. The Terps have played a couple Big Ten foes close, but they are more than just a couple players away from truly making some noise in the conference. They need a talent and depth infusion across the board.

That said, the defense has played relatively well at times, namely the front four (the pass defense has been suspect). Down linemen Yannick Ngakoue, Quinton Jefferson and Roman Braglio have done their part to push into the backfield and stymie opposing offenses early in games (problem is, they tend to wear down late, which is why Iowa and Wisconsin were able to pull away). Also, return man Will Likely has done a good job all year flipping field position and at least giving the offense a shorter field to work with. “

3.) What are the biggest differences between Mike Locksley's Maryland and Randy Edsall's version? How much has Maryland changed in the last two months?

DL “As I stated above, Locksley's policies are a lot more lenient than Edsall's. Edsall ran a very tight, no-nonsense ship, predicated on discipline. He wanted high-character, education-oriented, hard-working players who all bought into the team-first concept. That's all well and good, but the effect was it sapped the life and fun out of the program. At times, the players and assistants seemed to be walking on egg shells. The team lacked personality too, which made it a mundane group to cover.

As soon as Locksley took over, though, it was almost a 180. He allowed the players to speak their minds in the locker room and to the media (Edsall referred to rivalry games as "any other game" for example. Locksley let the players talk about how much they wanted to beat a particular opponent, which served to motivate them). He instituted fun activities such as a Friday night shirts-vs.-skins flag football game. He allowed rap music during practice. And instead of addressing the players as "these young men" and "student-athletes," he used terms like "the guys" and "the fellas."

It made for a much looser atmosphere, and the team seems to have readily taken to it. Although it hasn't shown up in the win column yet, the squad is playing better, and with more effort, with Locksley in place.

4.) What are you hearing on the coaching search front when it comes to Randy Edsall's full-time replacement?

 DL “It changes all the time. Since Edsall was fired in early October, there have been a number of candidates rumored for the job, from pipe dreams (Chip Kelly, Tom Herman) to the "flavor of the week" (Pep Hamilton, Bill O'Brien, Frank Reich) to the bizarre (Lane Kiffin) to those with an actual chance at winding up in College Park. Now, who resides in that latter category depends on who you talk to, but our sources have said the finalists (as of now) are Steve Mariucci (has a son at Maryland and is connected to Under Armour), Mack Brown and Butch Davis. There's also a possibility Mike Locksley is elevated to head coach, but it's a slim one at this point.”

5.) What is the key for Maryland to get out of New Jersey with a victory?

DL “It all starts with the offensive line and the running game. The Terps have to establish the run and control the clock, because quarterback Caleb Rowe has been an interception machine this year. The less plays/throws he has to make, the less likely UMD will have a momentum-swinging turnover. Also, the Terps' defense tends to wear down when the offense can't string together extended drives. Maryland has a suspect linebacker corps and secondary (other than Will Likely), and the holes are even more glaring the longer the defense is on the field. So it's paramount the Terps run the ball and try to shorten the game. Then maybe, just maybe, they can come up with enough plays inside the redzone to emerge with a win. (Note that Maryland's No. 1 offensive weapon, kicker Brad Craddock, will miss the game due to injury. So UMD practically has to score touchdowns, because the once-reliable kicking game has suddenly become suspect).”


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