The glamor might be at quarterback, but that's not the only brewing position battle at Maryland: Ralph Friedgen might have a very tough decision to make once kicker Nick Ferrara comes back from injury, because senior punter Travis Baltz has been fantastic while filling in. So good, in fact, that he might just take the job for good.
Baltz has gone 3-3 for field goals in the past three games, including a game-winner against Navy and two 40+ yarders against Morgan State. (For the record, Baltz had never attempted a college field goal before hitting the Navy game-winner). Oh, and he's been his regular star punter self, too, averaging 46.3 yards per punt with a long of 61. Four of his seven punts have landed inside the 20. And when Ted Townsley, the kickoff guy in Ferrara's absence, got hurt against Morgan, Baltz filled in there, too, with four kickoffs averaging more than 60 yards/kick - that's better than Ferrara's total last year.
In fact, he's been so good that Friedgen seems pretty well set with Baltz for now, thank you very much.
"Right now, to me, he's our guy," Friedgen said. "We'll see what happens. I don't know where Nick's at. I don't know if he'll be back for West Virginia. Right now, the way he's kicking, I'm staying with him."
The story is sort of a reverse from last year; Baltz went down last season in the second game, and it was Ferrara that had to pull double-duty (actually, triple-duty), taking care of kicking, punting, and kickoffs. Tough gig for a true freshman, but Ferrara responded admirably, averaging nearly 40 yards/punt, 59 yards/kickoff, and hitting 18-25 FGs, including a 50-yarder. He finished the year off with freshman All-American honors.
But Ferrara was struggling early in fall practice, and then suffered a groin injury. The injury kept him out of both the Navy and Morgan State games, and his timetable to return is unknown. But with Baltz kicking the way he is, there's really no rush to get him back.
A straight one-to-one comparison is unfair to Ferrara, who has a bigger sample size and was just a freshman at the time when compared to the now-senior Baltz, but it seems we may have a new MVP Kicker. Baltz has been better on punts and kickoffs (so far) than Ferrara was, and 3-3 on field goals, none of which were "easy."
Actually, Baltz has been kicking better than ever; his seven punts have gone for an average of 46.3 yards/punt, which is six yards better than both his freshman and sophomore years, when he made a plethora of all-____ lists. The Ray Guy Award better get updating its watch list.
Now, saying Baltz has the job for good is a little premature; after all, 3 is a very small sample size, and it only stands to reason that fatigue will set in before long. But until he misses, replacing him with Ferrara will be a controversial decision at best.