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Testudo Times Roundtable: The blackout game

Testudo Times staff writers and contributors gather to discuss Maryland's blowout loss to West Virginia last week and their upcoming game under the lights against ranked Michigan.

Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

Testudo Times Roundtable

Week of 9/28

Q: In order from most embarrassing to least embarrassing, where do you rank Maryland's 45-6 loss against West Virginia with 2013's 63-0 loss at FSU (remember that they were ranked 25th in the country in that game), last year's 52-7 loss at Wisconsin, and this year's three touchdown loss at home to Bowling Green?

Eric: The most embarrassing is Bowling Green because they are expected to win easily. Next is West Virginia, because of the rivalry. Then Wisconsin and Florida State because nobody really expected Maryland would win.

Brian B: This question really personifies the state of Maryland football, but I agree that Bowling Green is probably the ‘most' embarrassing, losing to a MAC team by three touchdowns in front of hundreds of hometown fans is one of those defeats bad enough to have fans looking to next year before October. West Virginia is a close second, while I have grown quite accustomed to the Terps losing to the Mountaineers, the Terps have hung tougher with higher quality WVU opponents in the past. Wisconsin was an ugly defeat for sure, but it was sandwiched between victories against Iowa and Penn State. Lastly the Florida State game is not even slightly embarrassing, FSU's average margin of victory in 2013 was like 89 pts per game (source required).

Todd: My first thought was to wonder how you limited yourself to just those three other losses but within the parameters you've set, I have to agree that Bowling Green is the most embarrassing. It's the late collapse combined with it being at home combined with it being to a perhaps somewhat better than average MAC team. To me, this is simply unacceptable.

Drew: This question alone comes with a great deal of embarrassment, but the Bowling Green loss takes the cake. Losing to a MAC team at home in a tune-up game still stings. I would rank last week's loss as second, just because I tuned in for a football game and witnessed a merciless slaughter. While the final score hurt, I was more embarrassed by the lack of fight and the bonehead decision making from the coaching staff than I was the result. You expect the team to at least come to play in a rivalry game like that, and they clearly did not. The Wisconsin game ranks third, but they salvaged the season and made something of it despite that loss. The FSU game probably marks the most recent time that Maryland was considered "the first true test" for any team, against a team that went on to win the title that year, so you can't be too embarassed by that loss, even if it did come on national television. That being said, I'm embarrassed by all of these.

Jake S: I would say the FSU loss would be the most embarrassing. When you aren't an FCS team, allowing 63 points to an FBS opponent is just wrong. Especially when you're ranked 25th in the country! The Bowling Green loss has to be next. Like it has been said, you expect to beat these teams. That's why you schedule them. These teams get paid to come play games like this! To lose to a team like that at home is incredible no matter how competitive they might be. Last week against WVU is next. To come out and not compete in a game like that is mortifying to me. I'm not sure what's worse, the way they played, or Rowe still being the starter this week. The game against Wisconsin was bad, but we were a bad team and they were good. Losses like that will happen.

Carson: Bowling Green is definitely the most embarrassing. Losing to a MAC team by three scores at home is a joke. This loss to WVU is also pretty bad because we just did not look like a Division 1, Big Ten football team. I get that WVU is a good team but the game was over in the first quarter. The Florida State loss was also atrocious, giving up what seemed like a million points and getting shut out ranked in the top 25, although in hindsight, that loss doesn't look so bad just because of FSU's recent history. It's all bad. So bad.

Noah: The Florida State loss was the worst in my opinion because it frankly looked like they quit out there. A ranked team that gets 63 points hung up on them and doesn't score? The three touchdown loss to Bowling Green of the MAC exposed flaws within the offense, defense, and coaching staff. Good programs don't lose games like that and then there is the sad irony of paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to schedule a school and then they beat you. West Virginia was much the same but because it came after Bowling Green and I expected Maryland to get crushed, it goes third. Wisconsin is last because I predicted (correctly) that Melvin Gordon would run for three touchdowns. He had that by the end of the first quarter. Last year's Maryland team had no business playing in Camp Randall.

Q: In your opinion, what was the least and most painful part of the West Virginia game?

Eric: The least painful part is a good day by Brandon Ross rushing the ball. The most painful part is a toss up between abysmal defense and a terrible display of offense.

Brian B: No parts of it were particularly painful as I had already prepared myself for the worst.

Todd: The least painful aspects are that I just listened to it on the radio so I didn't have to actually see it and that I no longer work with a WVU grad who would have had me suffer through weeks of obnoxious comments. The game was simply painful in its entirety. No element stands out as substantially more painful than any other.

Drew: The most painful part had to be punting the ball on WVU's side of the field and Caleb Rowe's performance. The least painful part was the 30 seconds of solitude that I found after we recovered the fumble on the second half kickoff, which was promptly replaced with more pain.

Jake S: The most painful was watching WVU score three touchdowns within (I believe)  the first six minutes of the game. I get the UMD offense is bad, but to see the defense get absolutely pummeled like that was just horrible. The least painful part was the truck racing that was on before it, saving the team from the embarrassment of the beginning of the game being shown on TV.

Carson: The least painful part was the fact I didn't end up taking Maryland +17. The most painful part was everything having to do with the game, all of the WVU alums I went to high school with (in Maryland) who know nothing about sports talking about the game on facebook, and realizing that this season is a wash already.

Noah: The most painful part was how Maryland got scored on so quickly and it seemed like the game was over before it even began. The least painful part was the end of the game. I knew that the rest of Maryland's season was finished.

Q: Quarterback controversy is back after Caleb Rowe was benched last week in favor of Daxx Garman. Rowe will be starting against Michigan this week. Is that a good idea or a bad idea against a Michigan defense that just shutout a ranked BYU squad 31-0?

Eric: At this point, they may be well served asking Jim Harbaugh to suit up and play quarterback.

Brian B: It is neither a good idea or a bad idea, that being said Caleb Rowe has thrown 9 interceptions in what amounts to less than 2 full games, it is tough to see that problem getting solved overnight, so I personally would like to see Garman get more reps because at this point this team has nothing to lose.

Todd: I like the idea because we might see a record for most interceptions per attempt or something like that. Seriously, I want to see how competitive Rowe is and how well or poorly he bounces back from the nightmare of last Saturday.

Drew: I really don't know what else Rowe has to do to be benched. I don't think it matters at this point who plays, but the coaches might as well give Daxx Garman a chance to show that he can do better than leading the FBS in interceptions.

Jake S: Like Drew said, it won't matter who they play. It is going to be a rough night, so they might as well throw Garman in there and see what he can do. I would imagine Edsall is going to have a quick hook, but then again, he probably won't.

Carson: I guess it's a bad idea because I think Daxx may as well have his shot now. I hate to sound so negative but at this point, honestly, I think it wouldn't make a difference if Edsall flipped a coin before the game to see who was starting. I imagine Edsall as Coach Klein in The Waterboy reading "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Coaching College Football" with his whistle half in his mouth. That is Maryland football right now.

Noah: If Caleb Rowe was his own team, he would be tied for the most interceptions thrown by a team in the FBS this season. I think it's a bad idea considering Rowe just played his worst game of the season and isn't set up for success against Michigan.

Q: If Rowe can't move the ball effectively against Michigan and throws another two or three picks, would you start Daxx Garman the following week at Ohio State?

Eric: If Rowe doesn't move the ball, then I believe the coaching staff has no other choice than to start Daxx Garman.

Brian B: I would switch to a wish-bone offense, Lavern Jacobs would take the snaps with Wes Brown and Brandon Ross flanked to either side and the Terps avoid throwing the ball as much as possible. On a more serious note, as I pointed out earlier, Rowe has already thrown 9 interceptions (on 64 pass attempts, that's 14% of all of his pass attempts going to the wrong team), 2 or 3 more would bring his total over ten less than half way through the season. For reference, CJ Brown only had ten interceptions all of last year.

Todd: If Rowe has the kind of game you're describing, I have to assume we'll see Daxx before the Ohio State game. And if that's the case and he, too, struggles against Michigan then for OSU, the Terps go to total platoon - one series of Perry, one of Caleb, one of Daxx with some Shane and Will thrown in just because.

Drew: I would definitely start Daxx Garman if Rowe posts another game like you're describing. But I also would start Garman this week. If that doesn't work, they can hold tryouts and see what kind of talent is hidden on campus.

Jake S: I'm a believer that Daxx Garman should be starting this week, so yes. OSU is going to be another game like last week and probably this week, so they might as well throw whoever they have in there and see if they sink or swim.

Carson: You have to. This goes back to the coaching staff's inability to put the players in a position to succeed. Why are you going to let Rowe continue to melt if you can clearly see what his M.O. is? Throw him a line and put Daxx in. Stop continuing to do the same thing and expect different results. We're far enough into the season where the coaching staff should know who has what and who can do what, yet it still seems like that isn't the case at all.

Noah: I agree with most of what has been said. We will likely see Daxx Garman this week against Michigan so it stands to reason that he might start. I like Todd's idea of platooning though. So crazy it just might work.

Q: Brandon Ross ran 15 times for 130 yards and did have a costly fumble but otherwise was the most effective offensive weapon that Maryland had last week. Who does that tell you more about, Ross or West Virginia's run defense?

Eric: West Virginia's run defense wasn't the best, but they really didn't have to be. Overall, Ross ran well and was the lone bright spot for Maryland.

Brian B: I would not call Ross's fumble costly, rather, I might refer to it as being more comical than anything. However, Ross in that game proved to be the Terps most consistent offensive weapon. The hype surrounding WVU's defense started well before the season started and Ross was the only moderately bright spot on a rather dark day for the Terps.

Todd: Honestly, I'm not sure it tells me much of either. I'm thinking that by the second or third series, the WVU defense was stacking the secondary figuring, let the guy throw it because we'll pick one off sooner or later.

Drew: Ross looked solid, but I agree that WVU was waiting for Caleb Rowe's inevitable mistakes rather than focusing on the rushing attack. But if he had success like that, one can optimistically hope that he can do the same this week. If he does so, maybe they will trust him with a heavier workload and not drop Rowe back 30 times, which has proven to result in interception-city.

Jake S: Ross has been good, but that will change against the better defenses. I'm not sure it's indicative of either. Like everyone else said, WVU was waiting for another mistake by Rowe.

Carson: I agree with everyone else here. It doesn't necessarily tell me much of either. Once WVU got up by three scores, they could have rushed 2 down linemen as it was obvious Maryland was going to have to throw the ball to get back in the game. Ross ran the ball well, however I don't think WVU was too concerned about him scoring 5 touchdowns and giving Maryland a chance to win all by himself.

Noah: I think it tells me that WVU's defense was content to let Brandon Ross do some damage and make Rowe beat them with his arm. He couldn't do that and the farther behind Maryland got, the more they had to go to the air.

Q: Maryland is the 13th-most penalized team in the country and they've been penalized for the 13th-most yards. Why do you think Maryland has struggled with penalties this year and will they have another double digit penalty game this week?

Eric: Maryland needs to play more disciplined and hold themselves accountable for mistakes. They most likely will have another double digit game, but hopefully all the yellow flags on the field brings out their black uniforms.

Brian B: I try to avoid criticisms about Edsall as they are somewhat trite, or rather just too easy to bring up. But, when you see a team as undisciplined as the Terps, racking up the amount of penalties they do, it is hard not to point some of the big blame finger in Randy's direction. Establishing discipline starts on the practice field. Looking ahead to Saturday's game I see that the price for tickets on Stub Hub are still floating around the century mark, telling me that the stands will have plenty of maize and blue in it, crowd noise and lack of discipline could easily lead to another ten penalty day for the Terps.

Todd: I think that was the subject of the team meeting. The Terps voted to hold it to two penalties per quarter.

Drew: Such consistent lack of discipline is the result of lack of leadership. It starts at the top, and the way things are going I don't see anything changing.

Jake S: I think it just comes down to them not being a very good team. Bad teams make bad plays and bad teams commit bad penalties. They don't seem to handle pressure well so this weekend will likely be similar to the four prior games.

Carson: The consensus answer is to point the blame at Edsall but where else should it go? Discipline is something that as Brian said, starts at the top. A baseball coach of mine once said, "If you're stabbing yourself in the leg repeatedly, how do you stop? There's no magic answer... you just stop stabbing yourself in the leg." (I have no idea if this has anything to do with the question, I just feel like it does.)

Noah: Carson, your baseball coach is a sage. I would say that the team needs to work on this stuff in practice but don't you think they have been doing just that? Frustration might be another big cause of these penalties. Take away the silly, unnecessary ones and Maryland might not have as many down the road.

Q: That seat under Randy Edsall just got a lot hotter after last week's blowout loss. What does Edsall need to do in order to keep his job past this season?

Eric: Beat Michigan, and stay competitive against the top B1G teams.

Brian B: He may be able to ride the hype surrounding Haskins to a 4-8 season (especially if one of those wins comes against PSU, MSU or OSU...I know, I am laughing audibly just typing it) and remain safe for another year. If they go 3-9 or 2-10 with several of those games being over by half then I would not be stunned to see Edsall go at the conclusion of this season. I do not see any midseason departure for Randy however, as there would really be no benefit doing that.

Todd: I think the team would need a turnaround of Brobdingnagian proportions. At the beginning of the season the consensus seemed to be that four wins would keep Edsall afloat for another year. Now, I'm not so sure. I posted a comment on one story where I actually made a prediction that the Edsall-led Terps would surpass the 15 losses by three touchdowns or more that they accumulated in the Friedgen era before the season ended. If that's the case, I don't think he survives even with four wins.

Drew: He's going to have an uphill battle for his job. At this point, four wins and the 2016 recruiting class isn't enough to keep it. They can't finish at the bottom of the B1G. He's gonna have to steal a win or two, and quite frankly it's just going to have to look a lot better for any hope of a return next year.

Jake S: My roommate told me this stat the other day when he was ranting about all the reasons Edsall needs to be gone. Edsall has ONE victory over a team that finished with a winning record that season. ONE. As DJ Khaled explains in my favorite song, "All I Do is Win": "Al Davis said it best, ‘Just win baby, win.'"

Carson: I agree with Brian again. I think if he can get to four wins, with Haskins coming in, he will stick around another year (as much as I hate to say it). However based on what we all have seen, that is going to be an extremely difficult task. I don't think there is any conceivable way that he is fired mid-season, barring something bizarre in nature happening (i.e. walking off the field during the game). Firing him mid-year would make Randy haters happy, however realistically, it would only cause further disarray for the program.

Noah: Jake, your roommate is actually wrong. Edsall has beaten TWO teams with winning records. In 2013, the Terps beat Virginia Tech in overtime and that team went 8-5. Last year, the Terps beat Iowa in the homecoming game and the Hawkeyes finished the season at 7-6. The Miami team that Maryland beat in Edsall's first game finished 6-6 but wasn't eligible to play in a bowl game. That being said, I think five wins saves his job. Four wins might not be enough.

Q: LB Jalen Brooks was quoted after last week's loss as saying, "I doubt we even had one play where all 11 of us did the right thing." Besides his comments being accurate, what do you take away from that quote?

Eric: The quote tells me that the players are frustrated and are aware they are capable of playing at a higher level than they are.

Brian B: Game plans and game readiness all revolve around the coaching staff. Maybe everyone on this roster from a talent standpoint is really just that bad...but, I doubt it.

Todd: I'd say my take away is that if that is indeed the case then either the coaching staff has taken the wrong approach to try to communicate with and teach these players or that the players have tuned them out.

Drew: It shows frustration with the lackluster performances, but more importantly a belief that there is room for improvement (dear God I would hope so). There is a clear gap in the objectives going into games and what transpires on the field, and maybe the losses and criticism is enough to light some sort of fire.

Jake S: It tells me that this season is about to be over after Saturday night. The second they go under .500, this team will blow up. They know they can improve but they cannot seem to put it all together.

Carson: It tells me that everyone is extremely frustrated but it almost gives a sense of despair or hopelessness. I don't know.

Noah: There is clearly a disconnect between the coaches and the players. Everybody looks bad here. That is what I take from this quote.

Q: 2-star DT Jeffery Pooler decommitted from Maryland after West Virginia offered him a scholarship in recent weeks. Is that something or nothing?

Eric: The fact that he is merely a two-star recruit makes it seem like it is nothing, but it becomes something due to the lack of depth at the defensive line positions.

Brian B: I wouldn't say that this individual incident will have much impact on the Terps going forward, but the uneasiness it begins to instill within the hearts of Maryland fans everywhere is certainly something. The thoughts of, "oh my goodness, I really hope this doesn't start a trend" has to be on the minds of many.

Todd: Meh. I'm so accustomed to hearing about high school kids who verbal then decommit that I pay no attention until they sign their LOI.

Drew: The individual case isn't any cause for concern, but if it is a sign of things to come then it certainly doesn't bode well. But if you're asking me if I'm worried over a 2-star decommit, then the answer is no.

Jake S: Drew nailed it. I wouldn't be concerned about him specifically. There are plenty of other 2-star recruits to go around. But if this becomes a trend...things could possibly get worse than they are now. Is that even possible?

Carson: I think it's a bit of both. Nothing because he was an out of state commit who was only a two-star. I'm also a firm believer in that a kid should make the decision that is best for him and his family, so long as there is no scumbaggery involved, which I don't think is the case here. It's something because of the lack of depth at that position, and as Drew and Jake said, if this becomes a thing due to the Terps on field performance this year, oh boy.

Noah: Until a kid signs their letter of intent, I typically don't read much into it. The kid wants freedom to make a decision. I respect that. If a number of other kids start to rethink their recruitment, that signals a bigger, more far-reaching problem and that WILL be a concern.

Q: Which team will have more fans in attendance this weekend, Maryland or Michigan?

Eric: It might be closer than it should be, but Maryland will.

Brian B: Maryland will by the slimmest of margins at the start of the game, but only due to the student section being full. By the 3rd quarter I could see the ratio shifting in the favor of the bad guys.

Todd: I don't know but the sad thing is that I've heard from some elements around Maryland that as long as the stands are full...

Drew: By the end of the game, Michigan will likely outnumber Maryland by a healthy amount. My only hope is that the difference isn't staggering enough that it causes social media trolling.

Jake S: Maryland will. Once they're down three possessions in the first half that will change, but UMD fans will come early to hopefully see Likely return a kick or two.

Carson: I think it will be pretty close come kickoff with Maryland holding the advantage since it's not a noon kickoff and Michigan is a high profile team, however if (being optimistic by saying "if") things get bad, that will change in favor of Wolverines fans.

Noah: I will be the contrarian of the group and predict that even with Hurricane Joaquin bearing down on us, Michigan fans will probably outnumber the Maryland fans by kickoff and definitely will by the time the second half starts.

Q: Will wearing the Black Ops 2.0 uniforms with hand-painted helmets inspire Maryland to score more than 20 points against the red-hot and ranked Wolverines?

Eric: The Michigan defense just came off a shutout against BYU. Maryland's offense will be unable to score 20 points.

Brian B: The Terps are gonna look really freaking good at not scoring more than one touchdown this Saturday.

Todd: Depends on the shoes.

Drew: While almost everything points to Maryland's offense struggling mightily, the uniforms point to the contrary. Look good, feel good, play good. That's powerful stuff.

Jake S: A couple good returns from Likely could give them good field position, but if he doesn't score the 20 points himself, this offense isn't getting that done.

Carson: Yes, because why not?

Noah: If there is rain--and there will be--Maryland will be forced to lean on their running game. Does anyone here think that Maryland's line is built to do that? I think they score less than 20.

Q: What are your bold predictions for this Saturday's prime-time BTN game under the lights against Michigan?

Eric: My bold predictions are that Will Likely will score a touchdown, Brad Craddock will make a 50+ yard field goal, and Caleb Rowe will not throw an interception. I know, that last one is more bold than the font of the questions of this article.

Brian B: Camouflaged against a dark October sky donning their all black jerseys, Maryland receivers move seamlessly through a confused Michigan secondary as the Terps take flight in College Park, shocking the nation with a 70-14 victory over the heavily favored Wolverines. Caleb Rowe finishes the night with 654 passing yds and 9 touchdowns...Jim Harbaugh is fired the next morning.

Todd: Mike Locksley takes Brian B.'s advice and installs the wishbone.

Drew: Jim Harbaugh, Caleb Rowe, and I will all end up with the same amount of touchdown passes.

Jake S: Rowe starts, Garman plays, and Hills ends up playing too. It's gonna be that bad.

Carson: Half of me thinks Maryland is gonna lose by 50, the other half thinks they win this game. Call me crazy, but with how the season has gone, I would not be shocked if for some ridiculous reason, the stars align and we pull out a victory. I don't think it's going to happen, but I wouldn't be surprised if it did.

Noah: Brad Craddock scores all of Maryland's points with three field goals but Harbaugh has to change his khakis at the half because of all the rain. He comes back for the second half wearing sweatpants. Memes go viral.

Q: Who do you think will win on Saturday, Maryland or #22 Michigan, and what will the final score be?

Eric: Michigan wins, 38-13.

Brian B: I'll leave my prediction up to Todd.

Todd: Welcome to the Dark Side, Brian.

Drew: Michigan wins 35-3. Maryland's uniforms look cooler. The teams call it a tie and we leave the field with a record of 2-2-1.

Jake: Michigan wins by enough points (however many that must be) to have an interim head coach on the sidelines for the Ohio State game.

Carson: The weather turns this one into a shitshow, Maryland wins 24-22, and I can't wait to read the message boards on Sunday.

Noah: Todd, the force is strong with this one. I'll pick Michigan over Maryland. The score? A lot versus a little.