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Roundtable: ODU takeaways, UConn predictions

Our weekly staff roundtable where we recap the biggest questions from the week that was, and preview the coming week.

This is exactly what our roundtable looks like
This is exactly what our roundtable looks like
Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

Q: Maryland, as a team, now has as many interceptions in 2013 as they had in all of 2012. Is the secondary that good or a product of playing inferior teams?

Pete Volk - Both! With every starter returning, we knew the secondary was going to be better, but it was hard to imagine this kind of production. Having Matt Robinson at linebacker has only helped things -- Dexter McDougle says the communication with him there is excellent -- and Maryland has a whole ton of depth at the positions (we haven't even really seen Zach Dancel yet).

Brendan Darr - I think it is a bit of both, but the talent is clearly there. They overwhelmed Taylor Heinicke and the ODU offense. I personally didn't think they would limit Heinicke's production like they did. I know it was an FCS opponent, but this guy threw for 700 yards in a game once. Holding him to 166 is impressive.

Alex Kirshner - The secondary is genuinely good this year. That unit didn't lose anything significant in the offseason, and even without Jeremiah Johnson, they've got three athletic cornerbacks and two experienced, athletic safeties. Isaac Goins and Will Likely aren't sure things, but both are good bets to be adequate No. 2 and No. 3 corners until Johnson returns. The safeties, Sean Davis and Anthony Nixon, are only getting better.

Todd Carton - I think it's a bit of both. The secondary is better - more experienced. And I think this is also a key factor. It's not only the playing experience but it's also another year in DC Brian Stewart's defensive system. The players can be a little more instinctive because they know the system. And let's not forget that one of the interceptions was by a linebacker.

Dave Tucker - Little from column A, little from column B. The secondary was one of the more experienced units coming into this year, so I think many expected them to be a strength for the defense (although maybe not this good). That being said, FIU and Old Dominion aren't exactly Clemson and FSU, either. I also think the play and pressure that the d-line has been able to create has helped with forcing QBs into making mistakes.

Molly Geary - I think the secondary deserves a lot of credit, but of course the level of the opponents so far has to be taken into consideration. Still, I think it's clear that this group has benefited greatly from having a year in Stewart's system under their belts and the results are showing.

Q: What did you make of Stefon Diggs' career day against Old Dominion?

PV - Michael Willis of Terrapin Station can vouch for this -- I said "touchdown" as soon as Diggs caught the ball on that screen pass. It was just that kind of day for him, and it is all kinds of fun to just see a player go to work like that.

BD - Ho hum. I guess none of us should really be that surprised anymore by his big days. First of many career-highs I'm assuming.

AK - It wasn't surprising. Diggs was the most talented player on the field, so it makes sense that he'd be the best player, too.

TC - I'm happy for Diggs but I think we have to keep the perspective that this was achieved against a transitioning FCS team with a very porous defense. I think it highlights the talent of Maryland's receiving corps. Focus on Diggs and Long burns you for 10 catches and 100+ yards. Focus on Long and you face big plays from Diggs. It'll be very interesting to watch this progression as the level of competition steps up.

DT - Stefonakkah came early this year. But seriously, I think we all know what Diggs is capable of now and what to expect from him week to week. Saturday I thought he took advantage of being a better, faster player and was able to consistently deliver, which was great.

MG - Diggs obviously had a great game and has so far has shown no signs of slowing down or running into any sort of sophomore slump. Yes, it was against Old Dominion, but he sure did put on a show both in terms of flash and numbers. Every time he touches the ball you get the sense that something electric is going to happen.

Q: This is way too soon to discuss the Heisman and a Maryland player, but if you had to choose between Diggs and QB C.J. Brown who is the frontrunner on the team?

PV - I think right now Diggs is the better candidate, due to the strength of his second week, but longterm it's got to be Brown. Defenses will double-cover Diggs all year, and instead of having to force him the ball (like last year, where they found some success doing it), Brown can just toss it to Long or King or keep it himself.

BD - Diggs is the face of the program, but a receiver just isn't winning the Heisman without an absolutely monster season. I profiled that in my pre-season counterpoint, and I'm standing by that. Brown's great start still doesn't have him on the Heisman radar, but a big game in Tallahassee....?

AK - Diggs would be a stronger candidate than Brown, because there are so many other quarterbacks who are unquestionably going to have better numbers, better records and bigger stages to play on. In Diggs' case, there won't be more than a small handful of receivers better than him, if that.

TC - It's hard to break out emotion from facts in a question like this. Diggs will get 10 - 15 touches a game while C. J. handles the ball on every offensive play so it's hard to judge the relative impact. I lean toward Diggs because he has taken on so much as a sophomore. He's undoubtedly the face of the program with respect to the player fans think of first when they think about MD football. He's the player fans come out to see. He's the guy recruits want to meet. I also think there are a lot of QBs who could do what Brown is doing. I don't think there are many receivers who can make the plays that Diggs does.

DT - Option C. - Diggs and Brown are tied for Heisman awesomeness. I think Diggs might have a slight edge right now, but it's hard for a wide receiver to win the Heisman. The last wide receiver to win it was Desmond Howard in 1991. Today, according to Vegas and for entertainment purposes only, Diggs' odds of winning the Heisman are 66/1 and C.J. isn't one of the top players on the board, so while I think ultimately C.J. would have an easier time in the end, Diggs is the leader right now.

MG - I'd definitely say Diggs. I have to agree with the idea that what he's doing at wide receiver is more rare than Brown at QB, despite Brown's Week 1 rating. Plus, Diggs just has that "it" factor and has the ability to turn any touch into a highlight reel play, which gets him a lot of attention.

Q: In 2012 the final drive against UConn was an utter debacle, how important is a win over UConn this year for the fan base?

PV - With a relatively young team, the biggest thing will be to show they can continue to perform on the road. In terms of the fans, a win over a team they lost to last year is always a good thing.

BD - I think this is an extremely important game. Obviously, Edsall's history with the program and the devastating loss last year only add to the importance of this. It's not Florida State or Clemson, but a loss here would be devastating. It's a team they should beat -- and easily. Coming off a loss to a FCS, even a top-five team like Towson, would look bad for the program. The fan base is loyal, but lets be honest, the stadium empties out if the team is winning at halftime, what will it look like up in Baltimore if they lose? I'd rather not find out.

AK - It's important, but it's not a program-changer or anything if the Terps lose. Getting to 4-0 before heading to Tallahassee in a few weeks is a big deal, and it would be somewhat embarrassing to lose to a team that just got worked by Towson. It'll ruin the night if they lose, but not the season. It would be a bad loss.

TC - It's more important than it would have been had UConn not lost to Towson. It's important because Maryland has to demonstrate a bit of a progression in handling better competition. I don't think the fact that it's UConn adds to the significance per se.

DT - I think just winning in general is important, especially since this is their first road game. Heading into conference play 4-0 is a very realistic goal for this team and will go a long way towards having a successful, bowl-bound season for Edsall and Co. I think it's more significant that Maryland beats UConn because the Huskies lost to Towson in their 1st game than anything about UConn's win against us last season.

MG - The win is of course important, but I think it's more about UConn's current level than about the fact that the Terps lost to them last season. The fact is that since the Huskies lost to Towson two weeks ago, a loss to them on Saturday night would especially sting and shock the fan base. That being said, revenge wins are always sweet.

Q: Todd's favorite part, give me a game prediction!

PV - Maryland 31, UConn 13.

BD - I guess I'm Mr. Positivity this week (this is a new feeling): Maryland 38, UConn 10

AK - Maryland 35, Connecticut 24.

TC - Thanks, Brendan. Carnac the Magnificent says: Maryland 34 Connecticut 13

DT - Maryland 41, UConn 16.

MG - Maryland 33, Connecticut 17.