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Testudo Times staff roundtable: Indiana football edition

Our staff gathers to talk about the Terps' game against Indiana.

Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

Thanks to FlaTerp, Todd, Noah, Andrew and Pete for their input on this week's roundtable, where we talked football, football and football.

Let's get to it:

Q. The Terps had, dare I say, a comfortable road victory last weekend. How much more comfortable are you in this team than the last time we talked?

FlaTerp: It helped, but part of that is because I was decidedly unconfident after the West VIrginia game. My issue with Maryland isn't whether or not they can be good on certain days, because they definitely have that ability. It's whether they can be consistently good and consistently prepared on a week-to-week basis. I felt like they were out-gameplanned against both USF and WVU.

Todd: Right now a reasonable person has to feel at least a little bit better given that Maryland has two true road wins this season. And, as unhappy as this may make some of the Edsall bashers that makes four straight on the road dating back to last season. I'm hopeful about the progress that C.J. showed and in the effort to get the ball into the large hands of one Stefon Diggs. On the other hand, I'm a Maryland fan son I have to feel some angst about the accumulation of injuries on the defensive side of the ball especially going into a game against a team that has shown a clear ability to move the ball and score.

Noah: A little but not too much. Maryland gave up an awful lot of yards in the past two games and their run game and 3rd down conversion are both getting worse. Those are very bad signs.

Andrew K.: A bit better, particularly if all starting LBs are back in action against Indiana. There are still serious problems with the pass defense, but hopefully having Y C-V back for a full game will help the pass rush. The offense's ballers were on full display last week. If Leak and Veii continue to do well then the Terps will have an impressive number of playmakers. Speed kills.

Pete: It was a good feeling -- it's the first time in quite a while that I felt Maryland comfortably outplayed a solid team on the road (Syracuse is not NC State). I'm still nervous going into Big Ten play, but I think this team can beat nearly everyone on their schedule when they're playing well. Operative word there being "can."

Q. Indiana's football miseries in the past are well-documented, but the Hoosiers look very much like a program on the upswing. How worried are you about Saturday's contest?

FlaTerp: Very worried. Maryland hasn't reached a level where you shouldn't be worried against any FBS opponent (again, USF anyone?). Indiana is probably every bit the rushing threat Syracuse was and they're also going to be brimming with confidence coming off an impressive win. The fans should be into it too, so they'll have some homefield advantage I would think. Be worried. Confident, hopeful, and worried too.

Todd: Worried, definitely. I don't know if I'm quite out on the very worried branch that FlaTerp is on but I'm concerned. I mentioned one reason in my answer above. Another thing that concerns me is the inability of the offense to sustain drives. Big plays are great. They can add to a team's momentum and certainly get us jumping off the couch while we watch. But at least every now and then, I'd like to see a six minute 80 yard drive. Maybe the defense would have fewer injuries if they weren't on the field so much.

Andrew K.: Intrigued, not worried. Indiana hasn't exactly been a football powerhouse for eons, and perhaps their win over Mizzou was a one-off (or maybe Mizzou was over-rated). Their defense is porous and they don't have the aerial offensive weapons that WVU had. However, the Terps have been sloppy in tackling and hopefully they can shore up their fundamentals or the Hoosiers will run roughshod over them.

Noah: I'm with FlaTerp on this one. Syracuse came in averaging a little over 200 yards a game rushing and ran for almost 400. Indiana averages over 300 rushing yards a game and just took down a top 20 Mizzou team in Columbia. They may come out flat for this one after a big win the week before but I doubt it. Be worried.

Pete: They have a very strong offensive scheme and some troublesome playmakers on offense. I like Maryland's chances because of the Terrapins' strength on defense, but anything can happen in a shootout.

Q. Which Maryland player's injury has you the most concerned, and why?

FlaTerp: They all suck. Will we ever have an injury-free year? I guess my answer would be Jefferson is the biggest loss talent-wise, but Hill is the biggest loss need-wise. The secondary was already really thin before Hill went down, especially at cornerback -- a position I believe has been under-recruited.

Todd: We'll I'm going with Jefferson because of the talent issue. With Kilgo moving up to take that start, I can't help but wonder how much rest he'll be able to get. I know nothing about David Shaw who's the new backup at that slot.

Noah: Hill in my opinion because the secondary was already thin. Here's one that will really get you thinking though. The worst injury this season is the one that hasn't happened yet. But believe me, it's coming.

Andrew K. : Jefferson, because he's been the most productive of the players getting injured. Hill was consistently getting beat. Isaacs was used mainly for blocking and I think that Gallo is a better receiver.

Pete: Of the season-ending injuries? Quinton Jefferson. Of the others? Matt Robinson. Robinson plays a role in Maryland's defense that no one else is quite equipped to play at the moment, and it's a completely different unit when he's out there.

Q. The Terps gave up the better part of 400 rushing yards against Syracuse and still cruised to a win, which feels almost impossible. They've won games when they've been killed in the turnover battle and lost games where they've taken the ball away repeatedly. Up is down, and down is up. Do you expect Maryland to stabilize some, or are we looking at an extraordinarily up-and-down ride?

FlaTerp: Consistency has never been there in the Edsall era, even in the good times (pausing to consider: have there actually been any good times?) ... OK, even in the less-bad times. Until Maryland shows it can execute and be disciplined each and every week, they really can't get the benefit of the doubt for that.

Todd: I hope to see some consistency develop but as FlaTerp notes, we haven't seen it much in the Edsall years. But honestly, the only consistency I want to see is increasing the number in the left hand column of the record book. I don't care if they're internally inconsistent I just want the win.

Noah: It won't change this week as I expect Indiana to rack up the rushing yards. The injuries (past, present, and future) won't help either. It's going to be a nerve-wracking roller coaster of a season.

Andrew K.: There are certain aspects that have been consistent in a good way. This team has shown the ability to play from behind if necessary, whether by three points or 18. Craddock has been spot on, and Renfro is improving. Diggs and Likely are always dangerous to take things to the house.  On the bad side, the Terps have consistently given up chunk plays on defense. Expect all of the above to continue.

Pete: I expect some stabilization in the future, but you never know with this team.

Q. More on that rush defense: Indiana's running back, Tevin Coleman, is a stud. He's leading the Big Ten in rushing despite only playing in two games, and he ran wild against a good Missouri team last weekend. With the front seven injuries accumulating for Maryland, what can the Terps do about him?

FlaTerp: Well, they can cheat, load the box, and force the Hoosiers to beat them through the air -- which is exactly what Syracuse tried to do against Maryland after seeing the West Virginia film. Having a healthier linebacker corps would make a big difference.

Todd: Put Chris Baker on the field to throw a block on a WIlliam Likely interception. Just kidding, folks. I think a lot of this comes down to the health of Maryland's linebackers. Perhaps loading the box is an option. Maybe Brian Stewart can draw up some creative run blitzes.

Noah: Try to stop him from getting to the game on time? Maryland can live with single coverage and letting an opposing QB try to beat them with his arm. What they can't live with is giving up 400 or 500 yards on the ground and tiring out their already beleaguered defense.

Andrew K.: Gamble a bit more, have Sean Davis cheat a little and move closer to the line. But it all goes to waste if the defense's tackling doesn't improve. The front seven have to do a better job of wrapping up and not letting runners get to the next level.

Pete: Hopefully, have healthy enough linebackers that they can make some plays!

Q. C.J. Brown was a lot better against Syracuse, executing on simple throws and letting his supporting cast do the rest. Do you expect another step forward this weekend?

FlaTerp: Sure, why not. C.J. felt a lot of heat after West Virginia and responded with a better -- not great, but definitely better -- performance at Syracuse. He's a heady veteran, so keep feeding him opportunities and hope for better results. All those quick-fire passes Maryland called last week, that was such a great gameplan -- not only because it worked, but also because it enabled C.J. to make plays and build confidence.

Todd: Let's hope so. Where I really want to see improvement from him is on the long throws. Maryland seems to be able to get that mismatch at least once a game where a receiver gets miles behind the defense and C.J. overthrows him. I know I complained about relying on the big play in a previous answer but when they're so there you've got to hit them.

Noah: Indiana is going to give him opportunities to make the deep throws that he has been bad on. Maybe C.J. Brown will surprise us but I expect more of the same. Give the ball to your playmakers in space and let them do the heavy lifting.

Andrew K.: By this time in his career CJ should not be as inconsistent as he's been this year. Thus I don't feel encouraged about his his passing becoming stable.  What he has been consistent on over the past two years is winning. He's a leader.

Pete: I do, if only due to the defense he's going up against. I think C.J. will have another day similar to his one against Syracuse Saturday.

Q. Lay a prediction on us. Who wins, and by how much?

FlaTerp: I like Maryland, 38-24, but they have to show up and come out of the gate firing on all cylinders. Another slow start, and you really don't want to be playing from behind against a ball-control team.

Todd: Prediction? Sorry, I have to clean up the tea that just squirted out my nose from laughing so hard because you somehow expect me to make a prediction!

Noah: Todd continually brings me joy by staying above the fray. This one will be high-scoring. Two weeks ago, I had Maryland by a field goal and they lost by a field goal. Then last week I predicted in my preview that Maryland would lose by 2 touchdowns and they won by, that's right, 2 touchdowns! I can't win. Maryland falls short on the game-tying drive and Indiana wins 45-38.

Andrew K.: Indiana will not take us lightly. I expect a high-scoring game, and a specials team TD is the differentiator for Maryland: 34 -27.

Pete: Maryland, 48-31.