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A rivalry renewed and Maryland football looks for first Big Ten win

Testudo Times staff writers and contributors gather to talk about the epic Maryland-Georgetown game as well as Maryland football's game against Michigan State and their upcoming home finale against Indiana.

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Testudo Times Roundtable

Week of 11/16

Q: Let's start with the Michigan State game. What did you think of Maryland's overall performance?

Brian B: Overall? Pretty lackluster. It had a similar feel to the Michigan game earlier this year. The defense played their hearts out, but once Sparty put up 10 points in the waning minutes of the first half, to me, the game already felt out of reach. Caleb Rowe now has 15 interceptions to compliment his 50 completions, which is a comically horrible ratio. Every week you think maybe this is the day they secure the ball...and then Perry Hills throws a pick six.

Todd: Well, I find it curious that since offensive coordinator Mike Locksley has taken the position of head coach Maryland has seen its greatest improvement in the overall play of the defense. Otherwise I found it fit the pattern we've seen over the past four games where the team played just badly enough to lose.

Andrew K.: The defense played perhaps its finest half of football in the first half against MSU. I really felt like there was a chance to win before the offense became offensive. Still, we had a chance to go into halftime behind by only seven and receiving the second half kickoff. But Locksley got greedy, inserted Rowe in, and he threw a pick to set MSU up for a field goal. After that it was like nails on a chalkboard watching Maryland on offense.

Thomas: The defense was good for a long while, but the offense was very bad. The Spartans made a bevy of mistakes in the first half, but Maryland couldn't capitalize. Then the Terps made mistakes and Michigan State capitalized. Just another Saturday at the yard for Hills and company.

Jake S: Michigan State allowed Maryland to hang around in the first half, but Maryland couldn't take advantage. The Maryland offense was tough to watch again. I feel like I'm saying the same stuff every week.

Carson: What Jake said. The defense put up a valiant effort but could only do so for so long due to the team's inept offense. Pretty much the same movie from any of the weeks prior.

Noah: Maryland was competitive for much of this game but didn't take advantage of Michigan State's turnovers and the absence of Connor Cook. Maryland turned the ball over five times and lost this game just as much as Michigan State won it.

Q: Maryland held Michigan State to less than 300 yards of offense and actually outgained the Spartans. Is that something or nothing?

Brian B: Nothing, the Terps still turned the ball over five times and lost rather uneventfully. Congratulations to the defense, and in particular the defensive line for containing one of the better QBs in the conference/country, but so many other aspects of the Maryland game struggled mightily. I am quite positive Locksley and the Maryland Terrapin football players are not hanging their hats on the fact that they outgained Michigan State by 27 yards on offense.

Todd: I'll go with somenothing. It's something in that overall, given an offense that seems to alternate three and outs with turnovers I think the defense has performed, if not beyond, certainly up to expectations. Whether we can draw any conclusion beyond that based on this specific game is questionable at best and probably closer to nothing particularly since you add the caveat that Connor Cook sat the second half.

Andrew K.: Something, in that it speaks loudly to the fine effort on the defensive side of the ball. Other than the third quarter drive by the Spartans, the Maryland defense pretty much played stopped MSU cold.  Where was this kind of performance earlier in the year?????

Thomas: It speaks to two things: the brilliance of the defense and the wildly unbrilliant propensity of the offense to turn the ball over. I think outgaining a possible playoff team (if they knock off Ohio State and don't royally screw up against Penn State and then beat Iowa) is definitely something. At the very least, it allows us to attribute the game's outcome to bad luck, being unclutch or something that can't be quantified by traditional stats, which is preferable to admitting the team is bad.

Jake S: The defense has been pretty solid all season, with the exception of Bowling Green. So I say that's nothing just because I've come to expect them to play well enough to win.

Carson: Something. Anytime a defense is able to stop a good, albeit overrated team, it's a very good thing. Maryland needs to continue to build on the idea that their defense is a strong(ish) point this season and go from there.

Noah: I think it was something because the defense was repeatedly pressuring Connor Cook and ended up knocking him out of the game. He looked really uncomfortable back there. Michigan State ended up overpowering Maryland with their run game in the second half but Maryland went on the road and held a pretty darn good football team under 300 yards of offense. That has to be something.

Q: Maryland's punting was absolutely dreadful last week. Do you think this is a talent issue or simply a mental and confidence issue?

Brian B: I am leaning toward a talent issue. What factors would lead to the punters lacking confidence based on mental issues? Are they concerned that their poor punting will lead to another Maryland defeat...because, don't worry guys, Maryland will find plenty of other ways to lose.  Couldn't UMD pull an Invincible and hold open tryouts for the position? I am certain out of the thousands of students that attend the University of Maryland, one of them possesses the ability to consistently punt the ball more than 25 yards.

Todd: I have to agree with Brian B. The best punter on the team at the start of the season was probably Craddock (remember he was recruited as a punter) but, in another brilliant piece of Edsallian strategy, the Terps were only going to use him in special circumstances. Maybe they thought they didn't have to recruit a punter and were shocked by Renfro's transfer but it's hard to imagine a Power Five team starting a season with nothing but walk-on freshmen punters.

Andrew K.: Pritchard hadn't been awful going into the MSU game. So after his first misfire on Saturday I have to believe it was a mental issue. But you let him work through it, not bench him for an untried RS freshman.

Thomas: If it were completely a talent issue for Pritchard, he would have been shanking punts all year. That said, there might be better punters just milling around at La Plata Beach. Holding open tryouts would be fun! Why not?

Jake S: I feel punting is all mental. If you're hot, you're hot. If you aren't, it's all in your head that you're going to struggle. They only get so many chances to get back out there, it's not like being a quarterback where you get back out there a couple minutes later. Special teams players could have only one or two chances in an entire game. So I'm going mental.

Noah: I'm going to say it's a combination of both, but I want to be part of the solution, not part of the problem. If you're going to be bad at punting, why not just go for it on fourth down every single time? Change the game plan up and make every possession "four down territory".

Carson: It's punting the football. Maybe I'm ignorant but can you get the yips punting like you can throwing the ball? If so, I suppose it's mental. But whatever it is, it needs to be figured out.

Q: Now to basketball. What were your initial thoughts on the Georgetown game?

Brian B: Initially...awesome?! The Terps did not play particularly well, but it is the second game of the season after all, and early games are inherently sloppy. If they lost I would have not lost all hope, and a close-ugly victory does not raise too many red flags for me either. One had to know that after their loss to Radford, the Hoyas would come into College Park and give it all they had. Thankfully, the Terps escaped with a victory.

Todd: That this should be an annual event. This should be Indiana - Kentucky. People have complained about the loss of the so-called ACC rivalries since Maryland moved to the B1G.  Well, here's the most natural hardwood rival Maryland could have. Hell, let's make it a DC Big 3 / Little 1 and play GW and American, too.

Andrew K.: Great game to watch. Continuing last year's theme, the team found itself once more on the right side of a close game.

Thomas: That game was about as wild as it could have been. I thought the Terps would blow Georgetown out of the water, but it wasn't so. The team was off its game for most of the night, and there was a point in the second half where Maryland couldn't buy a basket or a break. You can learn a lot about teams when they get in that spot. Rather than play frustrated and try to do too much, the guys hunkered down and fought back. Layman and Melo elevated their games in the second half, and that's what leaders on great teams do. This win isn't a cause for coronation, but it is a good sign of things to come.

Jake S: What an incredible experience. It is obvious this team has a long way to go if they want to be elite, but their ability to win a close game like this was very impressive. I thought they handled a game that was tightly-officiated, which was impressive for this early in the season.

Carson: My initial thoughts? If that was only the second game of the season, I'm going to die before the new year. I thought a lot of things. That game had all the makings for a Terps loss, followed by panic and chaos amongst many, however the team looked like it got more comfortable late in the game. They have an incredible amount of talent and that showed. I also think Melo hit the ground hard WAY too many times for it only being game two.

Noah: My initial thoughts were that we were lucky to see the revival of the great Maryland-Georgetown rivalry. It was an exciting game to watch and even though Maryland didn't play their best basketball, they made plays down the stretch and got the win.

Q: Which Maryland player impressed you the most and which player impressed you the least?

Brian B: Sulaimon impressed me the most. Although he only had a ‘pedestrian' ten points, he controlled the floor and hit the shot that essentially was the dagger in the back of the Hoyas. Additionally he had seven assists, which is more than I remember any Maryland player having last season (although I am sure it happened at some point). Moving on, this might not be a popular response, but by far the least impressive player (to me) was Diamond Stone. He looked uncomfortable on offense, and was a complete liability on defense. I think Turgeon recognized this as well, because despite the fact that Stone started the game, he ended up only playing 14 minutes. I am sure the big man will improve as the Terps move forward though.

Todd: I'm going a tad (or a Todd) outré here and say Michael Cekovsky. Sulaimon was just a rock and certainly has endeared himself to Maryland fans very quickly but for all the talk about Diamond Stone and Damonte Dodd's improvement, the only Terps big man who really showed up last night was Ceko. He looked like a completely different player than the one we saw last season.

Andrew K.: Trimble was, well, Trimble. He's so good that we kind of take a 24 point performance for granted. Although Maryland has a number of go-to options, the game really flows through him. Diamond Stone is a work in progress. He looked tentative, particularly on the defensive end of things. That's an area he'll need to work on before facing the B1Gs' bigs.

Thomas: We knew Trimble was special and Layman had game. It's reassuring to see how well Sulaimon fits in with this group. He's a great distributor who can also nail a shot in a big moment. He was the reason the Terps were tied at halftime, and after taking a backseat in the second half, he re-emerged to hit the biggest shot of the game. He played 37 minutes, which hopefully won't need to be the case every night. Meanwhile, in the world of plus/minus, Diamond Stone was a minus-14. He wasn't ready for the moment yet.

Jake S: Rasheed Sulaimon will be the most important player on this team for the entire season. He brings experience, which is incredibly important. That man knows how to play in a big game that everyone is watching. Early in the game he was doing everything! Passing, scoring, defending, even coaching. He was taking guys under his wing and told them that if they followed him, they would be okay. The three he hit at the end of the game gave me flashbacks to the one he hit at Syracuse when Duke went there. He's confident, and knows what it takes to win. I cannot say enough about his performance. Like everyone else, my least impressive player was Diamond Stone. He just wasn't ready for the moment...yet. He'll get there.

Carson: I think Sulaimon is the popular answer here and you can't argue against that. He showed that he can be a leader on this team despite coming in as a transfer (from Duke nonetheless) and there was a certain sense of calm when he was on the floor. But for me, Ceko is the one who impressed me the most. Last year he looked lost at times on offense. That wasn't the case this time. He looked stronger and more comfortable, and defensively he played very well too. I also agree with Brian here. Diamond did not look good at all. While I certainly get it was his first big time game as a freshman, and he will be very good, and I wasn't expecting 20 & 10 right out of the gate, he just looked lost to me. Didn't live up to the hype. But I'm still confident that he will in due time.

Noah: Maryland doesn't win this game without Sulaimon so he is definitely the player that impressed me the most. He made big play after big play. Diamond Stone was the least impressive in my eyes. His rebounding and post-defense need a lot of work. You can't have just one rebound (the same amount as Trimble) in this game if you're Diamond Stone. You just can't.

Q: What are two things that you thought Maryland did well against the Hoyas?

Brian B: The best thing that Maryland did was not cave. The first thirty five minutes of the game were less than pretty for the Terps, and when they trailed by seven with around five minutes to go, things looked a little bleak. But, the Terps managed to score on their final nine offensive possessions (or something very close to that). This certainly saved the Terps from an early season defeat at the hands of the Hoyas. Second, they limited turnovers, something that I was personally worried about coming into this game. Maryland only turned the ball over a total of nine times, and I believe they only turned it over twice in the second half.

Todd: They kept their composure and limited turnovers. When I note composure, I'm not limiting myself to recovering from the opening 9-0 barrage or Georgetown's other runs but I'm including the fact that the Hoyas seemed to take a little bit of the WVU approach and simply hammered Melo as much as possible.  Nine turnovers in a game that intense is terrific ball protection and speaks for itself.

Andrew K.: Limiting turnovers and causing Hoya turnovers. Second, having most of the players contribute in a meaningful way.

Thomas: As I wrote earlier, they handled adversity well. It's huge for a team to rally and win when they're off their game and not getting too many calls. I'm also gonna point out the lack of turnovers: they only had two in the entire second half. They'll have a chance in nearly every game if they keep that up.

Jake S: I'll piggyback on everyone else with the turnovers. After far too many in the exhibition and game one, it was good to see them cut down against a much stronger opponent. I also liked the balance towards the end of the game. Everyone on the floor had a big bucket. Nickens came in with a running floater, Trimble, Sulaimon and Layman hit big 3's, and Carter had a big time move in the post. Everyone contributed to that win down the stretch.

Carson: They battled. They showed a lot of gut and that will only help them by the time they get to UNC. Playing a good Georgetown team like that to the wire and coming out on top, already shows them that they don't have to be perfect to win. They limited turnovers as everyone has mentioned which is great, but they fought hard and came together at the end, which is what good teams do.

Noah: They made plays down the stretch. The Terps were down almost the entire game and stayed in it. I thought Maryland also did a nice job of attacking the basket on Tuesday night. They had 32 free throw attempts and that shows that they (meaning Melo Trimble and a couple of other players) are staying aggressive and not settling for jumpers.

Q: What are two things that you think Maryland needs to improve on?

Brian B: Here's something I thought I would never have to say this season. Maryland needs to fight harder on the glass. The were out rebounded 36-28 against the Hoyas, a team that was outrebounded by Radford a few days prior. Georgetown won the second chance points battle by a wide margin because of this. Secondly, they need to improve on their fluidity on offense and defense overall. The Terps took some bad shots, and gave up some easy buckets, but those are both things that should naturally improve as the season progresses.

Todd: I noted three things in my first post game comment last night. Brian B. has hit on the first - rebounds. Not only was Maryland minus eight but they gave up 10 offensive rebounds and GU had a 17-5 advantage in second chance points. Against the Michigan States of the world that could make for an ugly final score from a Maryland fan's perspective. My second would have to be defense with an emphasis on perimeter defense. Georgetown shot nearly 50 percent (48.2) for the game and 41.2 percent from behind the arc. Once again, the Terps will have difficulty surviving against the Indianas of the B1G if they're playing this kind of perimeter defense and Yogi Ferrell lights them up for 190 points (deliberate exaggeration here but you get my drift).

Andrew K.: Limiting second chance points. I'm not sure what the final statistic was, but I'm sure Georgetown roasted us on second chance opportunities. The other thing is beefing up defense in the paint. Georgetown had its way with Stone and Dodd, and there were times when Carter or Layman didn't pick up an open man down low. Ceko was a pleasant surprise in that he was our best interior defensive option.

Thomas: Offensive rebounding and defensive rebounding.

Jake S: Rebounding for sure. Everyone else nailed it. From a very technical view, Maryland's close-outs were not very good. They were getting out to shooters, but their close-outs were so undisciplined that they kept getting beat to the basket. Too many guys were jumping at fakes when they needed to just put their hands up and stay grounded. I saw a wide open lane for the Hoyas way too often.

Carson: Rebounding. Stone, RCJ, Dodd, Ceko, and even Layman should not be out-rebounded by many teams this year. Rebounding is simply desire and hustle. Layman had a few good boards last night that were examples of that, but the team needs to do a much better job on the glass from here-on-out. That will also limit second chance opportunities.

Noah: Rebounding is the first one. Diamond Stone and Melo Trimble had the same number of rebounds. The Terps got outrebounded by eight. The rebounding has to improve. The second thing that disappointed me was the free throw percentage. Trimble took the majority of them but was 13-18. Overall, the team shot just under 72 percent. If that number doesn't improve, Maryland will not win close games against great teams late in the year when it matters.

Q: Do you see Maryland-Georgetown ever coming close to Maryland-Duke status in terms of the intensity of the rivalry?

Brian B: Certainly, in theory. I am going to date myself and admit that I was brought onto this earth in 1989. That effectively makes me ignorant to much of the past Gtown/UMD rivalry. I was far too young to remember the 1993 game at the Cap Centre that essentially ended a long, cold winter for UMD basketball. I vaguely remember the game in the 2001 NCAA tournament. So basically the only Georgetown memory I had before this was getting our asses kicked in some random preseason tournament some years ago. Many Maryland-Duke matchups are much more at the forefront of my sports memory. That being said, I am well aware Maryland-Duke games will now be few and far between, and if Maryland and Georgetown begin to play more frequently, and the games have the same energy and fight that the game last night did, then this match-up could easily find itself at the pinnacle of college basketball rivalries.

Todd: I think it can exceed it at least for the fans. The truth is that even in the best years Maryland was always going to be a secondary rival to the Duke fan base. The Terps had no chance to supplant North Carolina. Maryland and Georgetown, however, has a chance to rile the passions of two fan bases that don't intersect.

Andrew K.: Not in the near future. Rivalries take time to develop. With Duke it was pure hatred. Until the Hoya fans or coaches become unbearably obnoxious, there won't be that kind of hate. Also, the Terps and Hoyas are in different conferences, so they can't knock each other out of conference championships. But if the teams continue to find themselves in or near the top 25 year in and year out, Maryland-Georgetown could become a heated rivalry.

Thomas: Nope. Duke was the perfect rival. It's a rich private school with annoying players and annoying fans, but it just won't freaking lose. Even the current Blue Devil regime, every year built around a few quasi-likeable freshmen, isn't hateable the way it used to be. Georgetown, meanwhile, hasn't been anywhere near that level since the days of Ewing. This could be a big thing for DC bragging rights, but that's it for now.

Jake S: If this becomes an every year game, I believe it has the potential to be a big time rivalry. I love it because my brother's a huge Georgetown fan so this was awesome. If the games in the future continue to have the type of intensity last night had, this could turn into something pretty cool.

Carson: I think it can but not in the next couple of years. I also can't say I was around for much of their past as I was born in 1991 and like Brian, so many Maryland basketball memories involve Duke. But I also think that the way basketball today is played is a reason why it will take a while to re-ignite that dislike for the schools. I was talking to my dad (graduated a Terp in ‘80) last night during the game and said something about the idea of Turge and JTIII getting into it like Lefty and old man JT did and he said basically, that that would never happen again. Basketball just isn't like that anymore. But I do think that for the young and future generation Maryland fans, if this game is played every year, it could become something close to what Duke is to myself and many others.

Noah: Full disclosure: I've only been a Maryland fan for five years and change. I started when I arrived on campus in the summer of 2010. I never really cared for the Maryland-Duke rivalry because I'm from Atlanta and wasn't raised with an irrational hatred of Duke. I think this rivalry can match Maryland-Duke because of its distinct and local feel. A local rivalry between two storied programs that are probably always going to be ranked when they play each other? Yes, please.

Q: Let's pivot back to football. There have been rumors linking Houston Texans head coach Bill O'Brien to the Maryland job. While he has said that he is ‘damn proud' to be coaching the Texans, he hasn't denied the rumors. Do you think Bill O'Brien would be a good fit as Maryland's head football coach?

Brian B: Sure, the probability of it happening are so low I don't feel like expanding on that...but, sure.

Todd: I think Testudo Times has already spent far too much "ink" speculating about whether Maryland might or might not be a destination for an employed NFL coach who might or might not be fired.

Andrew K.: Maybe not the first choice, but definitely a good fit. I'd be worried about how long he'd stay here, given his penchant for switching jobs every few years.

Thomas: He's certainly overqualified for the job, but he won't come if he doesn't get fired, and he probably won't stay if a better offer comes around after a couple of years.

Jake S: Great fit...unlikely to happen.

Carson: I suppose so, yeah. But I don't see any point in trying to guess who the next coach will be because there is no point. Whoever gets hired will get hired and we can all react to the decision at that time.

Noah: I don't think he's that great of a quarterback coach. Or a head coach. In addition to that, I think he'd leave as soon as an NFL job becomes available. I don't like the fit.

Q: Maryland has scored 30, 15, 24 and 7 points with Mike Locksley as the head coach. Has his performance earned him a spot on the coaching staff next year?

Brian B: I am quite certain most people want Locks on the coaching staff in some capacity based on his recruiting prowess in the DMV area. So his on the field performance is essentially irrelevant, but the games have become considerably more competitive since he took over, so I'd have to say he has not been hurting his chances to remain on the coaching staff next season.

Todd: If the next head coach thinks him worthy of keeping I'm all on board with that. If he doesn't, that's fine too.

Andrew K.: No. The offense is still painful to watch, and at times his decisions have left me scratching my head. He may be a great recruiter, but he's not a good coach.

Thomas: It hasn't warranted him losing the job he already had. The offense has been bad this year, but I think Locksley could do some fun things with Haskins under center. He's an ace recruiter, as well, so why not keep him around?

Jake S: I'd keep him around to recruit, but he isn't the future Maryland football coach.

Carson: No. He has not won a game. I get this is a bad team, but no. I don't think that Haskins + Locksley = magical results. Haskins has the potential of being good in the future, but I am not one to believe that one player would have turned this program around so dramatically. I understand maybe a win or two difference, but Locksley is not one puzzle piece short of being the answer.

Noah: I don't think Locksley has earned a job as the offensive coordinator next season and I don't think the administration will give him the head coaching job. I'm not sure where that leaves him. I don't think he would just accept a role as the recruiting coordinator.

Q: Maryland had five turnovers against the Spartans last week. That brings their season total to 35 (28 interceptions and 7 fumbles), tops in the nation. I'll make the over/under 2.5 turnovers against Indiana. Are you taking the over or the under?

Brian B: Over....way, way over. And my unasked for bold prediction: An errant Caleb Rowe pass breaks a window at the Gossett Team House.

Todd: Well, 10 games with 35 turnovers. That's a 3.5 per game average. Since you've set the number below the average, I have to go with over.

Andrew K.: Over.

Thomas: Over, especially if Caleb Rowe comes in for a few "obvious passing downs."

Jake S: Over.

Carson: The "public" is heavy on over. So I'll take the under.

Noah: Carson and I are in agreement here. I'm taking the under.

Q: Both Maryland and Indiana are winless in Big Ten play. Something's gotta give. Who gets their first conference win of the season and what will the final score be?

Brian B: Indiana pulls it out 13-10.

Todd: Maryland gets their first conference win. Or Indiana does. The team with the most points at the end of the game wins.

Andrew K.: I expect an ugly win by Maryland, something in the neighborhood of 20-17.

Thomas: Maryland's been both bad and unlucky, but Indiana finds new heartbreak every week. Terps 31, Hoosiers 27.

Jake S: Maryland wins 17-10.

Carson: Maryland 20, Indiana 17

Noah: Indiana keeps Maryland winless in Big Ten play, 24-20.