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Discussing Maryland football against Penn State and basketball's preseason expectations

Testudo Times staff writers and contributors gather to discuss Maryland football's upcoming game against Penn State and the beginning of basketball season.

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Testudo Times Roundtable

Week of 10/12

Q: What was your favorite part of Maryland's bye week?

Todd: For me, it was the lack of the usual Saturday agita that has accompanied watching Maryland football. Seriously though, I enjoyed that bizarre Michigan loss and am enjoying all the speculation about who the new football coach might be. And, of course, there was Maryland Madness. It was magical!

Andrew K.: The team and the fan base needed a week off to retool. I was able to attend the baseball team's fall World Series and catch up on other things. Diggs' big game against KC was icing on the cake.

Brian B: If we are just talking about the week in general, I suppose it was my trip to Fair Winds Brewing in Lorton, VA on Sunday. If we are specifically talking about Saturday, than I was thrilled to discovered my run-of-the-mill sports package came with ESPN Goal Line, the ladyfriend...considerably less thrilled. If we are referring to football...I am a Ravens fan, so I still had to "suffer" despite the lack of Maryland football being played last Saturday.

Drew: I loved hearing about the new things that Locksley implemented into practices, like music and one on one drills to stir up competition. It was also pretty cool that I went into the weekend knowing there was no chance we could lose.

Jake S: I was able to focus on the Mets. That was awesome. We're headed to the World Series, y'all!

Justin: The highlight for me was that they announced Perry Hills would start against Penn State. He may not be a great (or even average) quarterback, but at least there is stability. It was also nice to not here people guessing about how much we would lose by in the upcoming game.

Sammi S: I had a baked potato; that was pretty cool... OH you meant about Maryland! Well, reporting courtside at Maryland Madness was fun.  Football wise, I can't wait to see Perry Hills in action, and I hear that Locksley's making changes to practice.

Thomas: I, too, enjoyed the part where Maryland football didn't lose.

Noah: I made the case for why Bo Pelini should be Maryland's next head football coach. Over 19,000 people read the first 24 hours. It was incredibly gratifying as a writer and I have you, our loyal readers and fans, to thank for it.

Q: Maryland men's basketball is ranked third in the USA Today Coaches poll behind co-leaders Kentucky and UNC and received five first place votes. How does that ranking sit with you?

Todd: I'm fine with it in one sense. I believe that Alex pointed out that preseason rankings tend to be a good predictor of deep NCAA Tournament runs. On the other hand, I can't help but be surprised by all the hype because it's all about the potential of a team that lost in the second round of that tournament last year.

Andrew K.: Better than if they were top ranked: that would have generated expectations that only an NCAA championship would satisfy. But I don't put much stock in preseason polls. In fact, I don't put much stock into polls until a third of the way into the season.

Brian B: I am quite alright with that ranking. Being the pre-season number one comes with some added pressure. Also, the day I get upset about Maryland Terrapins basketball being ranked third because I feel it to be too low is the day I need to start reevaluating myself as a sports fan and overall human being.

Drew: It proves that they have the nation's respect without the target on their back and the added pressures that come with the number one seed. I'm actually relieved that they didn't get the top seed. In basketball, the rankings change so drastically throughout the season that being ranked at the top is superfluous because it's almost guaranteed that they will not stay there.

Jake S: I like the ranking. They made the top five and that's all that matters to me. Being ranked No. 1 comes with high expectations that I feel the team doesn't need. Let them know they're good -- but not too good...yet.

Justin: I expected they would be ranked in the top 5 and was glad to see they came in at No. 3. Being No. 3 doesn't come with the distractions of being No. 1, so now the team can focus on just playing basketball.

Sammi: I like seeing them at No. 3.  Doesn't put too high of expectations but it keeps them in the Top Five.  Ranks ‘em nicely and keeps the pressure off.  So thank you...

Thomas: You would probably like it if I told you who was ranked third in the very same preseason poll last year. It was Duke, and their season ended atop the official ladder of the NCAA. I think it's a safe bet that Maryland is one of the best teams over the course of the season, because of their star power and depth, and we'll see what happens come the end of the season.

Noah: Sammi, the pressure is most certainly on. Maryland expects to win it all this season. The fans expect Maryland to win it all this season. A top-three ranking does not serve to take pressure off of this team at all. This team is probably ranked appropriately but should have received some more first place votes in my opinion.

Q: This Saturday, Maryland will be rocking throwback uniforms from 1961, the first time that the Terps ever beat Penn State. Your thoughts on the uniforms?

Todd: Believe it or not, other than the picture that was on the front page of the website much of the week, I haven't looked at them or given the matter any thought. I'm old and don't get too worked up about uniforms. I will venture a wild guess, however, and say that the original 1961 uniforms probably didn't have an Under Armour logo.

Andrew K.: After all of the color & theme variations the past five years, the throwback uniforms are boring. They remind me of uniforms from the old AFL.

Brian B: Maryland changes uniforms so frequently that I do not pay it much attention. In fact, I have probably started to associate Maryland rolling out special football uniforms with losing, because that is what they generally tend to do while wearing them. That being said these jerseys are a nice change of pace from some of the past installments in the long line of ‘shock and awe'  jerseys UA has rolled out, however, they lack in identifying the team as being ‘Maryland', so I don't think I would ever SHELL out the money to purchase one.

Drew: They're simple and they're beautiful. Love it.

Jake S: They're different. I guess that's what a throwback uniform is supposed to be. Doesn't do much for me, though.

Justin: Nice and simple. Good to see Under Armour mixing it up by going plain and not giving us a stupid name for another exclusive uniform.

Sammi: Finally, a simple jersey with NOTHING TOO MUCH.  There's nothing distracting and it won't take away from the football.  A beautiful jersey.  Hopefully we play as good as we look.

Thomas: It's a nice change of pace, but I'd get bored if they were the team's primary jerseys.

Noah: It's red and white. If I wanted to watch a team with a classic, yet understated, jersey every week, I'd watch more Penn State games. I'm not generally a fan of throwback uniforms but I enjoy the concept of bringing back the uniforms from the first time that Maryland beat Penn State. The symbolism is nice.

Q: Are you at all disappointed that this week's game is being played in Baltimore as opposed to Byrd Stadium?

Todd: Not terribly. I think playing a game in a professional stadium every year or two could be a minor (and I stress minor) selling point for the program. I'm not thrilled that it's Penn State. I'd much prefer it to be an annual game against Navy but that's probably less likely than the Terps hiring Chip Kelly as their next head coach.

Andrew K.: I think it's a great idea to hold a game in Baltimore. But not against State Pen(n). It's a bitterness game (as opposed to a true rivalry game) and being at Byrd would be a better place for that kind of game.

Brian B: It allows more Penn State fans access to a game in which they would undoubtedly outnumber Terps fans no matter where the game was held. So, for this year, for a struggling  Maryland, I would say it is a bad thing. In the future, however, if Maryland can find some semblance of success, having an bi-annual ‘rivalry' game here could become pretty special.

Drew: I'm a little disappointed because knocking off Penn State at Byrd for the first time since the dawn of time would be awesome. However, it wouldn't feel great to see more Penn State fans show up than Maryland fans at home so I can live with the game being played in Baltimore.

Jake S: I wish it was here. Getting into Baltimore is a pain and I feel like it won't have the feel of a big game if it is played there. Then again, it isn't really a big game anyway.

Justin: The only reason I'm disappointed it's not at Byrd is because I live right next to the stadium. Penn State fans will probably outnumber us 2 to 1 on Saturday, and it's better to see that a neutral venue instead of your home stadium.

Sammi: I'm pumped.  I can't wait to go to Ravens stadium to watch the Terps take on Penn State.  It's a fun event in a cool venue.  Everyone who's complaining... yeah, stop it!  Let's mix it up a little bit!  Also, more Penn State fans can get to the game faster, too.  it's  win for everyone.

Thomas: Yes, if only because it means I can't wake up 10 minutes before gametime and stroll on over to the stadium. However, I think it's always fun to have a neutral-site rivalry game. You get that artificial sense of importance.

Noah: I wanted to see Notre Dame come to Byrd Stadium when I was in school. Not FedEx Field. The Terps played in State College last year in front of a raucous crowd. Maryland deserves a chance to play a home game on their campus in front of their students and fans.

Q: Former quarterback turned fullback Shane Cockerille has been moved back to the quarterback position. He is listed as a co-backup behind Perry Hills. Is this a smart move?

Todd: Why not? Maybe we'll see a dual quarterback pistol/shotgun lineup in the backfield and make Penn State guess who is going to get the snap. Turning serious again, I don't know. I've never seen him play quarterback. I don't know how his skill set translates to what Locksley wants to do and I don't know how well a kid who has been practicing at fullback all fall will transition to quarterback. It looks to me like a clear signal that Locksley consulted with Alex K. and is going to stress the running game maybe just to limit some of the physical pounding Perry Hills is about to face - even if he is a wrestler.

Andrew K.: It goes in line with Lockley's idea of the Tebow-type QB. Before the move Cockerille was way under-utilized. The switch back to QB for Cockerille gives Locksley the chance to allow Hills a rest during the game, as well as having a backup should Hills get injured.

Brian B: It's a move, neither smart nor dumb, that outlines the ongoing quarterback debacle at the University of Maryland.

Drew: It comes at an odd time to me with Perry Hills turning in one of the better performances we've seen from a Maryland quarterback this year, but it can't hurt to see if he can provide some resemblance of consistency at that position.

Jake S: I agree with Drew. It seems like the timing is off. As Locksley said, they have nothing to lose. So why not?

Justin: Perry Hills showed great toughness against Ohio State, some of which can be attributed to his background as a wrestler. Cockerille also wrestled in high school, so I guess interim coach Mike Locksley believes wrestlers make better quarterbacks. Did I mention they both were wrestlers?

Sammi: Why not?  Anything is better than how it's been.  ANYTHING.  So let's go for it.  Not like we have much to lose anyway.

Thomas: Wildcat alert! Wildcat alert!

Noah: It takes advantage of Cockerille's skill set and I'm sure that Locksley has installed a package of plays that he won't be afraid to use. At the very least, it is something that Penn State might have to keep in the back of their mind during the game.

Q: Will both teams shake hands during the pre-game coin toss or will we see another display of poor sportsmanship on Saturday?

Todd: The teams will shake hands.

Andrew K.: Handshakes.

Brian: To make up for last year Maryland will walk to midfield bearing roses, and give all the Penn State players great big bear hugs.

Drew: Poor sportsmanship or savagery? Whatever it is, I loved it last year but I doubt it happens again on Saturday.

Jake S: I hope Penn State doesn't shake hands just to keep things interesting. I do think both teams will shake hands, though.

Justin: Both teams will shake hands, followed by Hills and Cockerille coming out of nowhere to pin Penn State's captains.

Sammi: Handshakes.  Classy, classy handshakes.  We're a classy university, so let's be classy on the field.

Thomas: Locksley isn't gonna mess around in his first game. The savagery will wait until after the ball is kicked off.

Noah: I was incredibly disappointed when they decided not to shake hands last year. That won't happen again this year. Kevin Anderson will not stand for it.

Q: Is Maryland-Penn State a rivalry?

Todd: Yes and no. It's not because of Penn State's dominance on the field. I think it is, though, in the eyes of the respective fan bases. I think a lot of PSU fans hate Maryland more than they want to publicly admit and I think Maryland fans might hate Penn State even less than they publicly admit (and that's saying something).

Andrew K.: Not yet. It holds a lot of emotion for Maryland fans, but I'm not convinced that State Pen(n) fans are all that moved by the game. That's why I call it a bitterness game. Once we start beating State Pen(n) more often, it will be a rivalry game.

Brian B: Let me premise this by saying that I possess a strong disdain for the Penn State Football program, for obvious, and even perhaps irrational reasons. I could rant about said reasons for quite some time, and I am sure many Maryland fans may share these sentiments. However, when asking whether Penn State and Maryland share a rivalry strictly on the football field, the answer is a resounding hell no. The slacker in me refuses to look up the overall head-to-head record between the two, but I know it is something like 2-36-1, advantage Nittany Lions. I am quite aware that a lot of those losses came a long time ago, but that win differential is simply way too lopsided to ignore. The win last year in State College was nice, but Maryland has a lot of games to win in order to develop any sense of a true rivalry.

Drew: The optimist in me wants to say yes, so I will say yes. Normally when the all-time record is tipped so heavily in one direction, it's hard to call it a rivalry. But Maryland and Penn State compete for the same recruits in the DMV area and judging by some of the comments on this site, there is some animosity from Penn State fans. As much as they can say it's not a rivalry, I think the loss last year has us in their heads a little bit and I'd love to stay there.

Jake S: If the record isn't close, it isn't a rivalry. And like Andrew said, I don't think Penn State (or State Pen(n)) cares as much about this as Maryland. They have bigger fish to fry.

Justin:  Not yet. This has the potential to be a rivalry game, but this is only Maryland's second year in the Big 10 and it has hard to develop a rivalry in such a short time span. Also, when you are 2-35-1 all-time against a team, I think that's a one-sided beatdown instead of a rivalry.

Sammi: Rivalry?  Does Maryland have any rivals besides themselves?  I mean, with Maryland's record and their entry into the Big 10 just two years back, there's been no time for a rivalry.  Maryland's not even so great in it considering they lose almost every single time.

Thomas: Historically, it's a rivalry in the same sense that the Globetrotters and Generals are a rivalry. Between geography and other sports, however, I think the Nittany Lions will make for fine "rivals" in the near future.

Noah: This has the potential to be Maryland's most natural Big Ten rival apart from Rutgers but it isn't a rivalry yet.

Q: Saquon Barkley carried the ball 26 times for 194 yards and had a long touchdown run called back after a holding penalty against Penn State last week. He's the first Penn State freshman running back with three 100-yard games in this century. The last time it was done was 1998. He averages over eight yards a carry for the Nittany Lions. How does Maryland stop him?

Todd: To borrow the words of Keith Dudzinski, "Tackle him." The truth is, he's likely to get his yards. The goal has to be to contain him. The Terps did a very respectable job of that against Ezekiel Elliott by holding him 2 yards below the per carry average he had coming into the game and keeping his most explosive play under 20 yards.

Andrew K.: Star running backs don't seem to hurt Maryland very much. Take Melvin Gordon last year and Ezekiel Elliott this year. The Terps are hurt more by mobile quarterbacks (which Hackenberg is not). I don't think Marland needs to make any major adjustments for Barkley.

Brian B: I believe I heard someone refer to Penn State's O-Line as ‘hot garbage' this week, and Maryland's rush defense is not a complete mess. While Barkley is a solid back and may very well have a good game against the Terps, I would not be too surprised to see Maryland contain him.

Drew: Maryland has the potential to stop him if they play the right game. After all, they held Ezekiel Elliott in check. I have faith that they can stop Barkley from killing us, which will force Hackenberg to make some plays.

Jake S: The defense has played relatively well all season. Keep doing what they're doing and I think they'll be fine.

Justin: I'm not worried about Barkley after Maryland held Ezekiel Elliott in check. I'm more concerned about Christian Hackenberg beating us over the top if his offensive line gives him the chance to make plays.

Sammi: The defense needs to play defense like they've been doing.  I mean seriously, just tackle.  TACKLE for Pete's sake.  Please just do something.  Cover him especially well.

Thomas: If the Terps can seize him and bring him to the ground in a somewhat timely fashion, then they should at least be able to contain him.

Noah: Andrew K., you need to check your facts. Melvin Gordon ran for three touchdowns in the first half last year against Maryland. I'd say that hurt Maryland. I don't think the Terps should change up their initial alignment but they should absolutely be prepared to move some more bodies into the box. Limiting yards after contact will be crucial.

Q: Christian Hackenberg got sacked five times last week and seemed to be hobbling a bit. Maryland is pretty good at getting after quarterbacks. If the over/under on Maryland sacks is 3.0, are you taking the over or the under?

Todd: I'm not a gambling man but I'll go with over.

Andrew K.: Over.

Brian B: Any gambling man would know the over/under is 3.5 sacks.

Drew: I'll take the over.

Jake S: Agreed. Over.

Justin: Over.

Sammi: I guess I'll say over.  I don't know, all I can think about right now is pizza.  So let's just go with over.

Thomas: Three is a magic number. Push.

Noah: I thought that three sacks was exactly how many sacks Maryland will get on Saturday. I still do.

Q: Carl Nassib leads the FBS in sacks with 11.5 and tackles for loss with 16.5. He has a sack in every single game this season. Penn State leads the nation with 27 sacks. What does Maryland need to do in order to keep Perry Hills on his feet instead of his back?

Todd: Perry Hills is going to spend a lot of time on his back because Maryland's going to run the ball so much. But if your question is about the passing game, I'd guess it has to be any plays that get the ball out of his hands quickly.

Andrew K.: For passing plays, get Hills rolling out and bootlegging. For running plays, get Hills rolling out and bootlegging.

Brian B: Have him stand on the sidelines the whole game...ZING.

Drew: He has no business throwing downfield anyways, so short and quick passes are the name of the game.

Jake S: Keep him moving. Throw it short in the air and run it as much as possible. A game plan similar to OSU will keep things interesting.

Justin: I would throw a lot of quick, short passes and also do a lot of rollouts. This would allow Hills to escape would be pass-rushers and give him the potential to scramble if he can't quickly identify a target.

Sammi: Gonna go out on a limb here and say that maybe Perry needs to HURRY UP and know his plays before he starts each play.  Second, the offensive line must prepare and truly act like a brick wall to protect Perry.  They're big guys, so they must say, "THOU SHALT NOT PASS" and literally go after them.

Thomas: Swim away, Perry the platypus!!!!!!!!!

Noah: Moving the pocket helps but a practical solution is to fire quick screens and slants where he can get the ball out of his hands quickly. Penn State is outstanding at getting pressure and sacking quarterbacks and I expect them to have success against Maryland.

Q: What are your bold predictions for the Penn State-Maryland game?

Todd: When the teams shake hands, Maryland's captains will all have those little hand buzzers.

Andrew K.: For the second straight game the announcers will fail to mention that Hills is a former wrestler.

Brian B: That I don't hear a Penn State fan from White Marsh complain about feeling unsafe in "riot torn" Baltimore.

Drew: Perry Hills runs for 200 yards and 2 TD's, throws for 55 yards.

Jake S: Neither team shake hands. Maryland wins 35-3.

Justin: Brad Craddock gets to kick a field goal.

Sammi: The teams will shake hands.  Penn State fans will complain and start stupid chants.  A fight will break out.  Maryland will lose.

Thomas: Maryland fans somehow find a way to leave at halftime even though they were bused to the game.

Noah: There will be at least five penalties called for unsportsmanlike conduct and unnecessary roughness.

Q: Who wins in Baltimore on Saturday and what will the final score be?

Todd: Marty McFly told me the exact answer to both but I can't reveal it because if I do, this guy Biff....

Andrew K.: Maryland plays more inspired than under Edsall, Likely returns to early season form as a special teams star, but a win is quashed by the third large pass play  allowed in this game. So 21-17 in favor of State Pen(n).

Brian B: Penn State: 22 Maryland: 8 (Two Field Goals and a Safety)

Drew: Maryland wins 17-10.

Jake S: Maryland wins 24-21. Will Likely will return a kick for a TD and have a pick 6. I'm feeling good about this one.

Justin: Maryland 20-14. Hackenberg ends up in worse shape than Rocky after his first match with Apollo Creed.

Sammi: Penn State 21, Maryland 20.  Let's make it a heartbreaking score.  Maryland will fail on a two-point conversion near the end of the game.

Thomas: Penn State 27, Maryland 20. Terps have a chance to tie the game late, but fail to overcome the massive challenge of throwing the football.

Noah: The movie references bring joy to my heart. I see this one shaping up as a defensive battle like last year. The kickers will be the key. Maryland has Brad Craddock. Penn State doesn't. I think Maryland wins this one, 20-17.