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Testudo Times staff roundtable: football bye week

Our staff assesses where the Maryland football team stands.

Jonathan Ernst

Thanks to FlaTerp, Noah, Pete, Todd and Lee for joining us this week for a football bye week roundtable. We talked about where the Terps stand at the halfway point of their season and some odds and ends from the Ohio State game. Let's get to it:

Q. What was the most concerning element of Maryland's loss to Ohio State?

FlaTerp: What wasn't? I'll get a little provocative here, because the game really agitated me. Maryland learned that, at this moment in time, it's not really any closer to prominence than it was in 2010, Fridge's final year. That team split two games against ranked opponents (7-point win over N.C. State, 14-point loss to West Virginia) while it only lost by 14 to Florida State and by 6  to Miami. The Terps haven't recruited well enough to compete with top-25 type programs unless they get great coaching and great decision making. They aren't getting either of those things, so they were unable to compete. Ohio State is good, sure. But you can show up, compete and put up a fight or you can get run out of your own stadium. The latter happened. It's year four, Randy Edsall. Either ratchet up the talent level or ratchet up the execution level. Something's gotta give.

Noah: I think the most concerning element was the realization that Maryland still has a long way to go in order to be able to compete year in and year out in the Big Ten. Like 2010, they folded in the big games they played. They need better players. I will also take the stance that Maryland will never reach that level with Randy Edsall as the head coach. He can help transition Maryland into the Big Ten but Maryland should find another coach to help Maryland take the next step.

Pete: Maryland's inability to deal with a good defensive front. C.J. Brown and Caleb Rowe had next to zero time in the pocket, and it stopped the entire offense from functioning. The Terps need to block better, for sure, but it didn't seem like they had schemed all that well to prepare for it. Maryland did better as the game went on in calling screen passes and other plays to take advantage of the pressure, but it was no secret coming into the game that Ohio State's defensive line was going to beat up on Maryland's offensive line.

Todd: As FlaTerp notes, there's much to be distressed about and others have mentioned some of those concerns. I was bothered by the game plan early on. I don't know whether it was shaded by C.J. Brown's injury or by the way that OSU's front four dominated Maryland's offensive line. Still, it just seems to me that through most of the first half the play calling seemed better suited to Caleb Rowe's skill set than to C.J. Brown's. I'm also bothered by Brown's struggles in making good passes to wide open receivers on downfield routes. Missing P.J. Gallo on the Terps' first drive simply repeats a pattern we've seen all year from him.

Lee: Maryland's offensive and defensive lines are clearly not capable of playing against one of the best teams in the Big Ten - no surprise there.  C.J. Brown is an inconsistent passer and does not always make good decisions - no surprise There either.  Honestly, the most distressing thing about this game was Randy Edsall's post game comments.  Maryland got embarrassed and Edsall seemed unphased, as if he expected to get blown out by Ohio State and was not terribly bothered by it.  I do not think Edsall feels any pressure to win now.  Kevin Anderson appears to have total faith in Edsall, and I cannot see Anderson getting let go until the athletic department's finances are straightened out.

Q. We'll probably talk more next week about quarterbacking, but what would you do at the position if you were Randy Edsall? C.J. Brown remains the starter, but should he?

FlaTerp: I'd try something similar to the Leak/Tebow Florida teams. Play Rowe maybe 75ish percent of the snaps and put in some packages for Brown in which he can run the option. CJ can still throw it sometimes, which makes him dangerous on those plays because defenses couldn't truly key on the run just because Brown is in. Start out with this concept, but since neither guy has been consistent, you also just have to go with the hot hand. One thing I would not do is just anoint someone the starter at this point because neither guy has done well enough (or poor enough) to either keep the job or lose it permanently. CJ had done nothing to be gifted the starting nod vs. Ohio State when Rowe was clearly the better guy for the matchup. These guys need to earn their snaps, not just be handed them.

Noah: I think you give C.J. Brown the Iowa game and if he struggles, then you pull him and don't look back. There is no excuse if he doesn't play with the additional bye week. I do think that he and Caleb Rowe should split the first team reps in practice for the next couple of weeks just in case.

Pete: I agree 100 percent with what FlaTerp says, so I'll leave it at that.

Todd: I'm very much of two minds on this. Statistically, Rowe isn't much better or is maybe a bit worse than Brown if you project Rowe's passing numbers to match Brown's. However, as I said in a comment elsewhere on the site, the type of passes they attempt is not as comparable. Nor are the game situations in which they've played. However, on the whole, since the strength of Maryland's offense is allegedly the receiving corps, my casual fan's observations lead me to conclude that Rowe's skills are better suited to maximize those talents. I think I'd have to make a change to make Rowe my starter with the idea of using Brown in specific packages as FlaTerp and Pete have suggested.

Lee: I think C.J. is a little bit better of a game manager in the sense that he takes fewer risks with the ball.  His physical abilities will only allow Maryland to beat equal or inferior competition.  That being said, I like the idea of alternating drives between Rowe and Brown for the first quarter.  Based on performance in the first quarter, play one or the other for the rest of the game.

Q. What do you make of the Maryland offensive line's troubles against Ohio State?

FlaTerp: Nothing. Ohio State's defensive front is nasty as hell. I think this OL can hold its own most of the time and I'd like to keep the redshirts for the young guys like Prince and Gray who haven't played.

Noah: Nasty as hell almost doesn't do it justice. Ohio State's front seven on defense is one of the best in the country. Maryland's line hasn't just struggled against Ohio State, they've struggled against pretty much everyone. Maryland has only two games with a yards per carry average above 3.4. Maryland can't run the ball effectively and it will hurt them against better teams. We saw that against Ohio State and we will see it more this season.

Pete: Like FlaTerp and Noah said, Ohio State's defensive line is so good that it's hard to take too much away from it. The one thing? Don't hold your breathe on a Michigan State upset bid.

Todd: What they said.

Lee: Ditto

Q. What, if anything, did you see that you liked against Ohio State?

FlaTerp: Craddock. And the helmets. And Diggs scored, even though it didn't matter.

Noah: Brad Craddock's field goal and maybe that Maryland didn't completely give up like they did against FSU last year. That's it. There wasn't much to like.

Pete: Positives: Aussie aussie aussie. Negatives: Oi oi oi.

Todd: Everyone says they didn't give up (except maybe Marcus Leak on Rowe's first interception) so there's that. And Andre Monroe. Let's not forget about his effort.

Lee: Byrd Stadium was almost full - that was a refreshing change.

Q. Maryland won four games in the first half of its season. How many will it win in the second half slate? They'll face Iowa, Wisconsin, Penn State, Michigan State, Michigan and Rutgers.

FlaTerp: Anything is possible at this point. Maryland isn't going to win against Michigan State; that's all I feel confident about predicting.

Noah: Iowa, Michigan and Rutgers are toss-ups. I don't see Maryland beating Wisconsin, Penn State or Michigan State even though the Terps get the Spartans at home. Iowa is a physical football team and they win a lot of close games so I think they'll beat Maryland even with the bye week. Maryland can beat Michigan who is in free fall mode and Ralph Friedgen will take his revenge on the school that screwed him when the Terps go to New Jersey to play Rutgers in the finale. I think the Terps get one win on the back-end of the season and fail to make a bowl game.

Pete: I think Maryland takes between three and four of their final six. 7-5 is acceptable, 8-4 is good, anything else? Adjust accordingly.

Todd: I think the game against Iowa is pivotal. If Maryland can secure that one they nip a possible three game losing streak in the bud. Playing at Wisconsin will be a challenge after a win. After back to back losses it could be a disaster. Unlike my friend Noah, I think Maryland can win at Penn State. They've been pretty good on the road this season and Penn State is okay but not frighteningly good by any means. The loss to Michigan State is a given but unless there's some sort of Michigan miracle or Maryland collapse, the Terps should win in Ann Arbor. That leaves Rutgers at home and that's looking so far ahead now that we can't really have any idea where those teams will be at this point. So after all this verbiage, I think I come down to seven or eight wins if they beat Iowa. If they lose to the Hawkeyes, all bets are off.

Lee: Along with FlaTerp, the only thing I'm confident of is the Maryland will not beat Michigan State.  As for the remaining 5, they are all tossups to one degree or another.  I like Maryland's chances against Iowa, Michigan and Rutgers.  I'm less confident about Penn State and Wisconsin.  Penn State has a tremendous quarterback, and Wisconsin has strong offensive and defensive lines (though no quarterback).  I'll be optimistic and say Maryland goes 3-3 for a final record of 7-5.