Today we are lucky to have some insights into this weekend’s opponent, Maryland, from one of the bloggers over at TurtleDroppings.com – a blog devoted to Maryland football and basketball.
I answered some questions regarding Notre Dame for their readers as well that should be posted on Friday so be sure to head over and check them out as well.
1. Maryland has had some problems scoring points this year. What has been the main cause of their problems on offense and what types of defenses have they had the most success against?
The truth of the matter is when Maryland has surprised the opponent with their offense they have been the best. In the opener against Miami, they didn’t know what to expect with Gary Crowton’s offense, and they moved the ball at will, save for some redzone problems. The same could be said for the Clemson game. They inserted C.J. Brown as the starter and I don’t think Clemson was prepared for it. The more physical and athletic the defense, the harder time Maryland has had getting the offense going. Florida State knew they were going to run with Brown in the game, and they stopped that pretty easily. Really, there haven’t been that many games where the offense really clicked. You can blame that on the new system, and some injuries on the line. Really, the offense was one thing I was pretty sure of coming into the season, and it just hasn’t panned out.
2. Nine games into the Randy Edsall Era at Maryland, what are fans early impressions of him? Do they think Maryland’s struggles are related to the normal issues you see during coaching changes or are they started to get concerned?
In this day of what have you done for me lately, there is a growing faction that would be happy if this was his only season at Maryland. There was a divide when he was hired. Half didn’t want Friedgen to go, the half though Mike Leach was coming to Maryland. Needless to say he was fighting an uphill battle from day one. On the field is one thing. Off the field is another. He started out very strong in the public trying to build the program up. However, once they started losing, every time he opens his mouth, something more mind boggling than the time before comes out. He threw Friedgen under the bus, compared a team coming of a 9-4 record to moving from 1-AA to 1-A at UConn. I don’t know, I get the feeling that he is in over his head as far as dealing with a major media market. He essentially is building the program from the ground up now, because it is going to take a lot for a big portion of the fan base to get behind him now. The truth of the matter is he is going to be here a while. The athletic department is cutting sports due to budget problems, and there is no money for a buy out. He is under contract for 5 more seasons after this year at $2 Million per. I expect to see him get three years minimum, unless ticket sales continue to drop.
3. Who is the one player on offense for Maryland that should scare Notre Dame fans the most?
I think I am going to have to say C.J. Brown. He can be a difference maker, if, and it is a huge if, he can consistently throw the ball. He showed a glimpse of that vs. Clemson, but that was it. If a defense is on their heels against him, he can make some plays. It just remains to be seen if he can be an accurate passer.
4. Notre Dame will be wearing new helmets this weekend that have received mixed reviews from the Notre Dame fan base. What has the reaction been amongst Maryland fans to the crazy uniforms that the Terrapins will wear this weekend? And what about the Notre Dame uniforms/helmets?
In case you haven’t heard, we are going back to the Maryland Pride Helmets that they wore against Miami on the opening weekend. The reaction is mixed. Personally I love them, not so much for what they look like, but more for the fact that it is the Maryland Flag. Are they good looking? No. Are they awesome because that flag is unique to Maryland? Yes.
As far as Notre Dame’s helmet, well it isn’t the ugliest thing I have seen. I did spend 6 years living in South Boston, so the shamrock is every where there. Unlike Maryland, Notre Dame does have tradition, and it is kind of nice to keep things the same. However, there is no doubt the kids love these changes. I think it will be good for Notre Dame to change it up a little bit. I think it is ok to break it out on special occasions, not that facing a 2-7 Maryland team is a special occasion. As far as the Maryland reaction to Notre Dame, I don’t think we have any right to ridicule or judge another teams sense of fashion after this year. I think they are fine for a change, but I would hate to see the Irish totally change the uniform. Be proud of the tradition you built.
5. How much playing time do you see C.J. Brown getting this weekend and have Maryland fans been hoping to see more of him with the struggles that Danny O’Brien has experienced this year?
I think we are going to see both. Maybe not a 50-50 split, but we will see both. Maryland fans want to see Danny O’Brien succeed. He is a good kid, that people are pulling for. He is a really hard worker, and it just seems he is not comfortable in this system. The truth is, we want to see a win, and if that means some guy out of the stands is capable of doing that, we would take it! On the serious side, C.J. Brown hasn’t show the ability to throw well enough to keep the defenses off balance, and that ability to stop the run, when you can’t throw is the problem with Brown.
6. Maryland has struggled stopping the run this year. What do you see them doing this week to slow down the Irish running back duo of Cierre Wood and Jonas Gray?
Honestly, I don’t think they can really stop them. Did you see what Boston College did to them? The defense is a patch work unit at this time. Kenny Tate is out, and he was really the big play maker. Joe Vellano has had a great season on the line, but outside of that, you can’t really point to another player that has had a really good season. If the Terps tried to stop the run, Rees would emerge as a Heisman candidate this year based on the numbers he could put up in one game. I think the defense has been bad in all phases, and maybe the running numbers are a little worse because teams get ahead and then try to eat the clock. It could very easily be the passing game that has the really bad numbers if a team wanted to really air it out.
As far as a game plan, they need to win the battle on the line, and they really haven’t done that all year. Pressuring the QB has not been a strong point. Tackling has been a major weak point. If they put an extra guy or two in the box, they are going to get beat through the air. It really is one of the worst defenses I have ever seen. They can try different schemes, but I just don’t see one that is going to slow down the Irish.
7. What is your prediction for the game?
This season is spiraling out of control for Maryland and can’t end soon enough. Edsall has lost some players, and there are rumors that a lot will be transferring after the season. The defense is bad, the offense has shown some moments, but overall, has been bad. Special teams may be just as bad as the defense. There isn’t much to point to for me to say Maryland has a real chance in this game. I think Notre Dame runs away something in the 35-10 range. I was really excited for this game during the summer, but any enthusiasm for Maryland Football is gone.