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Discussing Maryland's game against Penn State and looking ahead to a showdown in the heartland

Testudo Times staff writers and contributors gather to recap the Penn State game and look ahead to Maryland's tilt with undefeated and top-10 Iowa.

Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

Testudo Times Roundtable

Week of 10/26

Q: Takeaways from the Penn State game?

Brian B: While costly turnovers yet again led to a frustrating result, I can honestly say that was the first time I have had fun watching the Terps play all year. They played motivated, inspired and somewhat-competent football for, perhaps, the first time all season. I am not sure if the final score indicates that Maryland is not as terrible as some might have initially thought, or if it simply says that Penn State is just that mediocre, probably the latter.

Sammi S: Again, interceptions and of course the turnovers were incredibly horrifying to watch.  However, it was such a fun game to be at and was probably the Terp's best performance of the year.  The Terps only lost by one point. Hopefully that means they're getting better and that Penn State isn't just getting worse... oh well, one point, guys, one point.

Todd: Besides my corner of the end zone seats? First, I thought it was a good atmosphere and like the idea of a game at least every other season in Baltimore's professional stadium. (Every year if the opponent is Navy.) As for the game, I'd classify it as ugly but entertaining. I liked the overall tone of the players and the (relatively) aggressive play calling. Obviously, I was disappointed by the outcome and the play of Maryland's secondary and hope they rediscover their mojo for Saturday's game.

Jake S: Because of how bad the game was, it turned out to be a great game to watch. Both teams clearly are not very good, but sometimes those end up being the best games. Sure I was disappointed in the loss, but it was a fun game to watch. That's pretty much what I'm looking for the rest of the way.

Carson: If you look at the stat sheet, it looked like a very, very sloppy football game (which, objectively, it was). However, it was the first game, not counting Richmond or USF, that Maryland actually resembled a football team. Even though Maryland turned it over five times, they had a chance at the end, and I suppose that's all you can ask for.

Noah: The first half was hard to watch because of Maryland's turnovers and Christian Hackenberg's beautiful deep throws. The Terps continued to move the ball against a very good Penn State defense. However, the Terrapins couldn't get the go-ahead score despite multiple opportunities. Perry Hills is who he is at this point. He struggled throwing the ball and it will continue to make Maryland's offense more one-dimensional.

Justin: Although it was a heartbreaking loss, I thought Maryland look more motivated and fired up than any other game this season. They definitely fed off the crowd, and you could see what the atmosphere at Byrd would be like if the students decided to stay for the whole game. Other than the atmosphere, I was disappointed in the defense's ability to prevent the big play. They got great pressure on Hackenberg, but the secondary got torched and allowed Penn State's receivers to make plays at all the right moments. This was also a problem against Ohio State, and could be for the rest of the season.

Q: If you had one word to describe Maryland's performance against Penn State, it would be...?

Brian B: Inspired

Sammi S: Motivational

Todd: Erratic

Jake S: Fine

Bartley T: Encouraging

Carson: Loose

Noah: Promising

Justin: Determined

Q: Christian Hackenberg was only 13-29 but threw for over 300 yards and three touchdowns. How do you feel when you see those numbers?

Brian B: It says that the front seven was getting pressure on Hackenberg all day forcing him into quick decisions, but also ultimately says that Penn State's receivers far outplayed Maryland's corners. I also believe one of his long TD bombs should have been called back on offensive PI (I believe it was the score that made it 14-13 in favor of the Lions)...but, that's just the bias in me speaking.

Sammi S: It shows that he can definitely come in clutch when it comes to long passes, but at the same time, it says a lot about our defense.  Did Maryland really crack down on him that much to pressure him to only throw 13-29?  Or does it just mean that he was pressured.  I don't know, but Godwin sure saved the day.  So did their WRs who can catch those long throws.

Todd: Well, it's interesting. I think that Maryland went in with a defensive game plan to stop the run, pressure Hackenberg and leave the corners on an island. The difficulty is that, as I understood it, Hackenberg's strength as a quarterback is making the long throws and that he struggles on the short and intermediate routes. Don't get enough pressure on him on the deep routes and you saw what happened.

Jake S: It shows that this team has the ability to turn a relatively good quarterback into a mediocre one when all the pieces are put together. The amount of yards allowed is too high, but like Todd said, he's a deep ball guy. It's a sign of both positive and negative things, so my feelings are all over the place.

Carson: To piggyback off of Todd and Jake, it's inspiring because the front line put excellent pressure on Hackenberg, however it is also very disappointing because coming into the season, the secondary was supposed to be one of the brighter spots on the team and so far, that has been far from the case.

Noah: Hackenberg did what Hackenberg does well. He has a powerful arm and hit the deep throws. Maryland's secondary got burned yet again. Had they been better in man-to-man situations, Hackenberg wouldn't have put up his best passing numbers of the season.,

Justin: It was good to see Hackenberg complete less than 50 percent of his attempts, but every pass he completed seemed to turn into a big play. He had a few great throws, but his receivers put themselves in great positions to make the catch. Weak pass coverage will always be exploited, no matter how much pressure you bring.

Q: Who does last week's game tell you more about, Maryland's secondary or Christian Hackenberg?

Brian B: Maryland's secondary. Penn State really did not have a receiver running free down field all game (relatively speaking), which in one way is a positive for the Terps secondary. However, Hackenberg has his receivers to thank for his decent statistical performance. He kept throwing up a bunch of long bombs with the hope that his receivers would out play the corners for the ball...his hopes were often answered, which in one way is not a positive for the Terps secondary, but also does not build any confidence for me in Hackenberg's ability.

Sammi: It tells me more about Hackenberg.  Penn State is one of the top teams in the Big 10.  Hackenberg is supposed to be one of the best quarterbacks in the conference.  It speaks volumes that he (and Penn State) could barely escape with the win.  He threw a great deep ball but he had trouble dealing with Maryland's defense all game long.

Todd: I'll go along with Brian here, to some degree. First, as I noted above, the long throw is allegedly his strength. Second, because it's rare for defenders to look back for the ball until the last possible moment, it's physiologically easier for a receiver who looks back first to adjust to an underthrown ball and this burned Maryland more than once. I don't remember any glaring breakdowns in coverage so what it seems to say is that left in a one on one situation, Maryland's secondary simply isn't that good.

Jake S: I'll go with it says more about Hackenberg. People seem to think he's one of the best quarterbacks when he's on, so maybe this was the beginning of what he can do. Sure his receivers helped and his completion percentage wasn't very good, but he looked pretty confident in his ability to get the ball down the field. If he can do that, I'm sure he'll be able to figure out the short and medium throws. I agree that the Maryland secondary didn't perform very well, but I was still impressed with Hackenberg throughout.

Carson: Maryland's secondary. Hackenberg could be a good quarterback if he had a halfway decent O-Line, but the amount of times he just heaved the ball downfield and completed passes are on the Terps' secondary. Hackenberg shouldn't be able to just huck prayers downfield and be successful against good secondaries.

Noah: Maryland's secondary got shredded for the third time this season. Last week's game tells us more of what we already know. Penn State is not Bowling Green or West Virginia but Hackenberg and his strong arm made the Terrapin's secondary look really bad...again.

Justin: Maryland's secondary. The unit was supposed to be one of the strong points this season, but has drastically underperformed. Hackenberg heaved up quite a few prayers on Saturday, and the Terps failed to find the ball and prevent his receivers from making a play.

Q: How would you grade Perry Hills' performance last week?

Brian B: B, if not for a few untimely turnovers, that offense looked more than competent against a high-caliber defense and Perry had a lot to do with that. He completed more passes in less attempts than Hackenberg and again rushed for over 100 yards, so I will go easy on him for the turnovers...I guess.

Sammi: I'll give it an even C.  He made some good passes and got us to a thirty point game.  However, his carries aren't great, and what speaks loud are the TURNOVERS.  How do you turn over the ball that much?  He cost the team the game with the last interception.  Let's stick with a C.  He had great effort but interceptions and fumbles, along with the excess carries brings him down.

Todd: First, Brian, Hills had five turnovers (2 fumbles, 3 interceptions). Second, where was your grading system when I was in college? I want to take nothing away from his effort and grit - he was a wrestler, after all - but cut out the turnovers and Maryland wins the game easily. The first interception likely cost the Terps a chance at points (first drive started 1st down at the PSU 30 then false start, pass for - 6 yards and the int. on 2nd and 21). The first fumble almost definitely cost Maryland points. It was pretty much an unforced error on a first down run from the PSU 19. He caught a break on the next interception in that the PSU cost his team 30 yards of field position by intercepting rather than knocking down the duck of a pass. Fumble number two came after the Terps had pulled to 30-31 and recovered a fumble on the kickoff. The blitzing linebacker was right in his face and he has to see that and take the sack. The last interception seals the game. My grade: C-.

Jake S: C- as well. The turnovers, man. There really isn't an excuse for them. Like Todd said, if he doesn't turn the ball over, Maryland wins easily. He did turn it over, though, and they lost the game. That leads to me giving him a generous C- rating.

Bartley T: C-. Although he showed he can run with the ball and kept the team in the game, he needs to develop interaction with receivers.  Hope the O-line can help so he can find some.

Carson: This is a tough question for me. Part of me wants to give him a D. As a quarterback, you simply cannot contribute five turnovers under any circumstances and expect to be in a game. Doesn't matter if you're Tom Brady. You turn the ball over five times, you get a low grade. However, for the first time in a long time, every time Maryland had the ball, I thought they had a great chance to drive down the field and score. When Perry dropped back, there wasn't an enormous sinking feeling in my stomach because I knew an interception or underthrown ball was coming. So for that reason, I will give him a probably-too-generous B-.

Noah: D+. Maryland lost this game because of the turnovers. Hills threw for over 200 yards and ran for over 100 yards. He gave the Terrapins opportunities to score but his many turnovers undermined his and the team's hard work.

Justin: C. Hills racked up over 300 yards of total offense, but five turnovers is inexcusable. He turned the ball over three times in the fourth quarter, when a Brad Craddock field goal could have put the game away. Hills is a solid runner, but does not have the accuracy or arm strength to lead a game-winning drive.

Q: Maryland has put up 28 and 30 points in Perry Hills' last two starts. If the Terps keep up that kind of offensive output and stay competitive the rest of the way, does Mike Locksley need to be seriously considered for the full-time head coaching job?

Brian B: If they put up an average of thirty points in the remaining five games, but manage to win one or none of said games, then no, I do not think it would effect Locksley's stock all that much.

Sammi: I don't think so.  A loss is a loss.  Getting close is great, but he's not coaching the team to wins.  You can see improvement, but not enough to win a football game.  So no, unless the Terps put some wins on the board.

Todd: The bottom line is winning games. If they win three of the five it puts him on the edge of serious consideration. Four out of five or better and he must be seriously considered.

Jake S: Remaining competitive is great, but if they aren't winning, he shouldn't stay.

Carson: Just win baby, win.

Noah: I think he'll get serious consideration if Maryland gets three wins down the stretch against Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Indiana and Rutgers. If Maryland puts up 30 points per game, they probably will get at least a couple of wins.

Justin: Coaches don't get hired because their teams are competitive, they get hired because their teams win. Locksley should only be considered if he can lead this team to victories.

Q: Will Likely was surprisingly effective on offense. How much do you expect Mike Locksley to use him going forward?

Brian B: I can't imagine it would be productive to use Likely on offense much more than they did last Saturday. At some point you have to take into consideration how much his participation on offense could affect his efficiency on defense and special teams.

Sammi S: Keep him on special teams.  I liked him on offense, but let's utilize him in his expert areas.  Let's keep him on defense and special teams.  Making him an all-around player won't make him any better, but letting him excel in his expert area is a plus.

Todd: Hmm. I addressed this in detail in a comment on Ryan's story earlier this week. In general, I'd say three to five touches and eight to 10 plays a game. On defense, he doesn't get the physical pounding that say, UCLA linebacker/fullback Myles Jack would have gotten. The same is true for special teams. He'll have fair catches and touchbacks that keep him from getting hit. Still, as Brian rightly points out, you don't want to limit his efficiency.

Jake S: I like it a lot, but it isn't realistic. This guy cannot do everything. I wish he could, but he can't. I'd keep throwing him in on offense, but not more than what they did Saturday.

Carson: I agree with what everyone else says. I do think even if he doesn't get more than a couple of touches a game, just having him on offense 10 or so plays, going in motion, helps. He is probably one of only a few players that opposing teams have to gameplan for a bit (could be completely wrong) so even just having him line up on offense is a good thing.

Noah: I think he'll get around 10 touches a game on offense. I can't see him getting 15 or more and I can't see him getting five or fewer.

Justin: I think he adds extra flair to the offense, but there's only so much he can do. He's a great wildcard that can throw an opposing defense off-balance, but I can't see him getting more than 10 touches a game.

Q: Fill in the blank. Brad Craddock has been _____ this season.

Brian B: Under-utilized.

Sammi: Underestimated

Todd: no Cameron Johnston as a punter

Jake S: Missing.

Bartley T: Agree with Brian B.

Carson: Unnecessary

Noah: Disappointing (by the standards he set last year)

Justin: See Jake's answer

Q: Maryland effectively neutralized Saquon Barkley last week. The Hawkeyes average over 200 yards a game on the ground. Will the Terps be able to duplicate that performance against Iowa's powerful running attack in Iowa City?

Brian B: I doubt they fare quite as well this Saturday. While I'm essentially ignorant to all aspects that encompass the Hawkeyes offense, I would have to imagine that they easily possess a stronger O-line than the Nittany Lions.

Sammi S: I hope so, but I don't think so.  They couldn't control Godwin, and they still had trouble handling the long passes or even the running backs.  So I'm going to say no.

Todd: No, unless Saquon Barkley has transferred to Iowa and been granted immediate eligibility, I don't see how Maryland neutralized Barkley. Seriously, I think the 4-3 defense bolsters the Terps' run defense. I don't see Iowa exploding for big yardage rushing the ball.

Jake S: With all the energy and excitement gone from playing a rival and the first game under a new coach, this will not be an impressive performance by any part of the team.

Carson: I agree with Jake. Lot of emotions, both due to the coaching changes and it being Penn State last week. I feel like this could be a sneaky ugly game on the road against a good Iowa team.

Noah: Only Ohio State averages more yards per game on the ground than Iowa. I think Maryland is going to give up a lot of yards and at least two or three rushing touchdowns.

Justin: Barkley never had a chance to get going due to a horrendous offensive line and some questionable late game play-calling. Iowa's offensive line has to be better than Penn State's, so I see Maryland keeping their ground game in check early but getting worn out and letting the Hawkeyes easily run out the clock late.

Q: What are your bold predictions for this week's game against the Hawkeyes?

Brian B: Perry Hills wears eye black that reads , "No Picks"...throws three picks and gets fined by the NFL.

Sammi S: "#11 Perry Hills carries" yet again, and Iowa fans will get way too excited when they beat UMD.  I don't expect a terrifying loss, but it'll still be a loss.

Todd: Field hockey wraps up an undefeated B1G season and someone spots my orange Orioles poncho in section 102 and shouts, "Hey! What's Todd doing in Iowa?

Jake S: Will Likely runs the wildcat all game.

Carson: Cockerille accounts for a touchdown, either passing or rushing.

Noah: Will Likely scores a touchdown on offense.

Justin: Perry Hills gets hit so hard that he asks "Is this heaven?" only for Kevin Costner to respond "No, it's Iowa."

Q: Iowa is undefeated and has now cracked the top-10 in the country. They'll be playing at home and had the bye week to rest and prepare. Who wins in Iowa City and what will the final score be?

Brian B: Iowa, 34-17.

Sammi: Iowa 54, Maryland 28.  Let's go with a high scoring affair for Iowa.

Todd: Maryland something. Iowa something else.

Jake S: Iowa 40, Maryland 21.

Bartley T:  Lopsided. Iowa by 20.

Carson: Iowa 41, Maryland 20

Noah: Iowa keeps their undefeated season alive by beating Maryland, 38-17

Justin: Iowa 34, Maryland 14