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Discussing Maryland football's homecoming game against Wisconsin

In this week's roundtable, Testudo Times staff writers and contributors look at and discuss the Iowa game, Maryland's turnover problem, homecoming and college basketball preseason rankings.

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Testudo Times Roundtable

Week of 11/2

Q: What were your initial thoughts on the Iowa game?

Todd: The first half was nearly unwatchable for Maryland fans and I was a bit disappointed in the play calling. On the other hand, I thought the Terps made some nice halftime adjustments. The offense controlled the ball and the defense simply stifled Iowa. Then there were the turnovers.

Andrew K.: Stop me if you think you've heard this one before. Maryland falls behind early against a superior opponent, mostly due to letting up some large pass plays, then fights valiantly to come back in the second half, only to commit turnover suicide.

Brian B: It was more enjoyable to watch than the games versus West Virginia, Michigan and Bowling Green in my opinion. I guess that is a positive. At times (especially in the second half) they looked competent, but, all-in-all, Iowa was the much better team, and we all knew that going in anyway. Thankfully, Will Likely's kick return and the subsequent two-point conversion made the final score slightly respectable.

Carson: Maryland may have only lost by two scores, but it sure felt like a lot more than that. Not to beat a dead horse, but two scores in five minutes is not impossible by any means, but you would have thought so seeing us punt twice at the end of the game.

Justin: It felt like Maryland didn't even have the ball in the first half, as Iowa dominated and built a comfortable 21-0 lead. It was nice to see them not give up in the second half and make the score respectable, but a loss is still a loss.

Sammi: Wasn't surprised at all.  The Terps did what they usually do.  Fell behind by a huge score early.  However, I think I dropped everything when I heard about Will Likely's touchdown.  Like, I swear, I almost dropped my camera on the floor.

Thomas: So they didn't magically become a competitive team. That's unfortunate.

Noah: Turnovers aside, I think the game could have been quite different if Iowa hadn't punched the ball in for a touchdown at the very end of the first half to go up 21-0. The complexion of the game changes. Justin also made a great point. Randy Edsall punted in a fourth-and-you have to go for this because you're losing situation against Michigan. It inspired almost uniform laughter in the press box. It's not about field position at that point. It's quitting. Mike Locksley did the same thing twice late in the fourth quarter against Iowa. It looked like waving the white flag to me.

Q: Maryland is dead last in the FBS in turnovers, turnover margin and interceptions. Has Maryland simply been unlucky or do they simply not understand a fundamental element of football (taking care of the ball)?

Todd: I don't know if I'd say they don't understand the need for ball protection but rather they don't execute properly. That begins with certain basic physical techniques (coaching) and then gets compounded by players making poor choices (combines ability and coaching).

Andrew K.: It's up in the air. So far this season, the Terps have lost just five fumbles, compared to seven for their opponents. Interceptions are a completely different story. Rowe and Hills have combined to throw 23 picks, an average of almost three per game. That's totally unacceptable. Throw in (pun intended) that the defensive secondary has only one playmaker, who teams usually avoid, and that explains why Maryland only has five interceptions on defense.

Brian B: While there have been a handful of tipped balls by Terp receivers that ended up landing right in the hands of the opposing team, which is inherently unlucky, most of the blame lies with Maryland themselves. It speaks to the play calling, especially in games earlier this season like Bowling Green in which the Terps passed 33 times, and ran only 26, despite knowing they have no capable passing quarterback on the roster.

Carson: I still don't know if I'm a huge believer in the "luck" statistic, although I understand the foundation of it. In my opinion, Maryland has turned the ball over so many times this year, not due to being "unlucky" but because they have failed to take care of the football. At no point this season did I watch our quarterbacks throw ducks into the other team's hands and say, "Man, we've just had some real tough breaks this year."

Justin: Some of the turnovers this year have been unlucky (see Brandon Ross's fumble against West Virginia), but this is a team that fails to take care of the ball. Maryland has two quarterbacks in Caleb Rowe and Perry Hills that make bad decisions, and it's only a matter of time before a bad decision causes a turnover.

Sammi: It's more so the decisions.  Perry Hills is making these terrible plays that lead to the turnovers.  He has to learn some new moves or just know his plays ahead of time.

Thomas: Turnovers are bad, but a stat called "turnovers luck" claims that Maryland is losing 9.8 points a game simply because the team isn't recovering fumbles on either side, and an inordinately high number of its passes are being intercepted rather than broken up. Per SB Nation's Bill Connelly, the Terps are the unluckiest team in the FBS, 2.5 points per game below Virginia. Sure, Hills and company are "mistake-prone," but the numbers point to Maryland also being wildly unlucky.

Noah: I think it's more the latter than the former but the statistic that Thomas presented from Bill Connelly is a very interesting one. One of the issues that I see with Perry Hills and many of his interceptions are that he either telegraphs his throws, throws into double coverage or throws the ball to a place where his receivers aren't. That tells me that in addition to bad decision-making, the players don't know the playbook well and there is a lack of communication between the quarterback and the wide receivers. They need to get on the same page.

Q: Besides "Don't throw the ball to the other team and don't fumble," what advice would you give Perry Hills on how to cut down on his turnovers?

Todd: Try to look at the whole field. Often, the check down or back side is open.

Andrew K.: I'm not sure there's much to tell Hills that he hasn't already heard. Perhaps work on his mechanics to get a quicker release, but that might be unfixable at this stage in his career.

Brian B: I would tell him to have a short memory...but, I am not sure how effective such advice would be.

Carson: Take a knee on each play.

Justin: Make sure you can make the throw. Sometimes he makes a pass where the receiver just isn't there.

Sammi: Complete. Your. Passes.  Stop carrying the ball, and stop looking to the coach.  Play football.

Thomas: I'm not qualified to give any advice to a Division I quarterback, as my only experience at the position was in Madden.

Noah: Thomas, if you've logged the hours, I think you are qualified to be an armchair quarterback. My advice to Perry Hills would be to go through his progressions. It's far better to get even a small or medium gain than it is to make a high risk throw and have it turn into a drive or momentum-killing interception.

Q: Corey Clement returned last week for Wisconsin and ran 11 times for 115 yards and three touchdowns. Will he get over 100 yards against Maryland this week?

Todd: I'll go back to my comment in last week's roundtable and say that the switch to the 4-3 defense has solidified Maryland's run defense and note that they've been effective over the last few games. They held Iowa about 100 yards below their season rushing average. Can he have a breakout game? Sure, but I don't think he'll average 10 yards per carry.

Andrew K.: My first impulse was to say yes, given what he did to Maryland last year. But given the 2015 defense's ability to contain star running backs, I'm not so sure.

Brian B: Perry Hills has out-run star running backs in three consecutive games. The team should be somewhat inspired on homecoming weekend and should make a solid effort to continue this trend.

Carson: I'm going to say that he rushes for over 100 yards but certainly not on 11 carries. I agree the run defense has been much better this year.

Justin: I think he gets over 100 yards, but it will take a lot more than 11 carries. It will be a grind, but I think it happens when Wisconsin runs out the clock late in the fourth quarter.

Sammi: Why not? I do think this will be a tough game for Wisconsin, especially because it's the Homecoming game.  However, these past years have been good for Clement against Maryland, so why can't he?

Thomas: I think Wisconsin as a team surpasses 100 yards easily, but Clement himself won't do it unless he gets an overwhelming majority of the touches.

Noah: I expect that Clement will get to 100 yards but he'll probably need close to 16-20 carries.

Q: How many wins will Maryland get in their last four games of the season (Wisconsin at home, at Michigan State, Indiana at home and Rutgers on the road)?

Todd: Fewer than four, more than zero. I'll split the difference and say two.

Andrew K.: One. I think the Terps manage to beat Indiana at home and that's it.

Brian B: I will have to disagree with Todd and say that zero is a very distinct possibility. However, I think they will manage one more win, like Andrew said, I think this will most likely come against Indiana, but I also think they have a fighting chance against Rutgers as well.

Carson: I think one. My guess is at home against Indiana. I would like to think they beat Rutgers but I just don't think they're capable of putting together two good games back to back.

Justin: It's likely that Maryland will lose out, but I think they take down Indiana in the final home game.

Sammi: Can I insert a negative value?  I don't see a win, unless for some reason they become incredibly good before facing Indiana.

Thomas: I, too, believe the Terps can knock off a banged-up Hoosiers squad in the home finale, and maybe get lucky against Rutgers. But they won't be knocking off Michigan State or Wisconsin this month.

Noah: Indiana and Rutgers are both winnable games. They become far less winnable if Maryland has four turnovers like they did against Iowa. I will walk the path of the optimist and say that Maryland will win those two games.

Q: Has Will Likely been better than, worse than or exactly what you thought he would be coming into the season?

Todd: I'll start by saying Likely's been a very good player for Maryland. He's been better on special teams than I thought. I'm going to be possibly a bit contrarian here and peg him as certainly no better than I expected and possibly a bit weaker at cornerback. He's made some plays but he's missed some too. Here's my issue. Someone could look at  a game like last week and note that Iowa threw to Likely's side only once that I remember. I think that's more an outcome of Davis being such an easy target to pick on. Likely's at least a threat to make a play. Davis was never in position to do that.

Andrew K.: Better. He's explosive on returns, and is a legitimate candidate to make an All-America first or second team as a return specialist. On defense it's been pretty much the same as last year, but I think his lower tally of picks is because teams are not throwing his way (or perhaps teams are intentionally exploiting the other defensive backs). The new wrinkle for Likely is on offense, and I think it's there, along with his return game, that earns him a spot on an NFL roster.

Brian B: Much better on special teams than anyone could have ever predicted. Everytime he gets a clean catch on a kickoff or punt, there is a solid chance that he takes it all the way, or at the very least makes a very solid return. He has 1,024 yards on kick/punt returns and there are still four games remaining. On defense he has played admirably with ten passes defended and a handful of forced fumbles. However, given the way the Maryland offense seems to think the football is a live grenade, a few interceptions from Will this year could have been very helpful.

Carson: I agree with everyone here. Definitely better than I envisioned, solely due to his threat as a return guy. Defensively, he has performed well given various other factors but I don't think anyone saw him breaking through in the special teams game the way he has.

Justin: Better. Likely has been about the same on defense, but has had less chances to make plays because opposing quarterbacks aren't looking his way. As everyone has said, he has been much better as a returner, and is a threat to take it to the end zone every time he touches the ball.

Sammi: Better.  He is alright on defense, but he is definitely dominating special teams.  Teams don't kick to him because he's a threat.

Thomas: He's proven to be our best playmaker, and he's only gotten a few touches on offense. I can't say I expected that.

Noah: I expected Will Likely to be one of the best in the country as a return man coming into the season. Those expectations have certainly been met. Like Todd, I think he has been exposed at corner at various times this season, most notably against Penn State, but also in the games against Bowling Green and West Virginia.

Q: Who is having the worse season, Nebraska (five fourth-quarter losses by a combined 13 points, lost to Big Ten doormat Purdue, needs to win out against Michigan State, Rutgers and Iowa to become bowl-eligible and has six losses going into November for the first time in program history) or Maryland (four losses by 21 or more points, has to win out to become bowl-eligible and had their head coach fired mid-season)?

Todd: I'd go with Nebraska. Preseason optimism from some parties aside, no one expected much success from the Terps. The gambler's over/under on wins was 4.5 so expectations for the season were low. And frankly, if the blowout losses led to releasing the head coach, that has the potential to be a more positive than negative development.

Andrew K.: Nebraska is the college version of the Baltimore Ravens. Excruciating, frustrating, but not embarrassing. Maryland: embarrassing and painful to watch.

Brian B: While the Terps losses have been more lopsided, I still have to say Nebraska by a country mile, and in a sadistical way I love it. The Huskers fire poor Bo Pelini after the man won nine or more games for SEVEN consecutive seasons, which really magnifies how irrationally high expectations are in Lincoln. Now they are likely going to have their first losing season since 2007, the year before they brought in Bo. I will have to consult the Alanis Morissette dictionary of irony to determine how ironic that may or may not be.

Carson: I think Maryland. Nebraska has been dismal this year (Purdue?) but they are considered to be having a brutally bad year because of their recent history, as Brian mentions. The Terps are ugly to watch but outside of the Maryland world, no one is necessarily saying "Wow, everybody look at how bad Maryland is this year." That's because the Terps haven't been that great in the years before this.

Justin: Nebraska. The Terps have been disappointing but did not have high expectations for this season. Meanwhile, Nebraska, who was expected to be one of the top teams in the Big Ten, has gone 3-6. Since the Huskers had much higher expectations, they are the bigger disappointment.

Sammi: Nebraska.  They make me feel better about watching Maryland football.  At least I can keep my eyes open while watching Maryland football.  But Nebraska's team is just like the state.  Flat.

Thomas: Maryland fans can see the score at halftime and move on with their lives. Nebraska fans have to watch the whole game, but they still find disappointment in the end (see Mangum, Tanner). Maryland is the worse team, but because of that, Nebraska is having a worse season.

Noah: Shout out to Brian B. for the Alanis Morissette reference. I agree with Thomas that Maryland is the worse team but Nebraska is having a worse season. Consider this...If Nebraska had scored a combined 20 more points in the five games they lost, the Cornhuskers could have entered November with an 8-1 record. Five losses, four of which came in the fourth quarter, by a combined 13 points is really what sank Nebraska's season. It started with BYU and never stopped. They are a team that you could point to and say that they have really been unlucky this season.

Q: Is Pep Hamilton, the now former offensive coordinator for the Indianapolis Colts, on your short list for the Maryland football head coaching job?

Todd: I'm 5'4" tall. All my lists are short.

Andrew K.: (My life has been spent trying to avoid the short list.) Hamilton has local ties, an association with Locksley and has experience working with a star QB. However, his lack of head coaching experience doesn't land him on my short list.

Brian B: I'm 6'4" tall, and I don't make lists.

Carson: If my short list is a long list, then yes. So, no.

Justin: I don't think he has enough qualifications to be the head coach. He has never been a head coach, and it's yet to be determined whether his success at Stanford and Indianapolis was because Andrew Luck was his quarterback. Even though he has ties to the area, we also have no idea how well he can recruit.

Sammi: Who are you calling short?  And yeah, he'd be cool. It could happen, and I'm going to say there's a 50 percent chance it does.

Thomas: We here don't believe in short lists, as evidenced by making the case for 5,938 prospective coaches already. But yeah, Hamilton is in my top-10 for sure. It'd be fun to refer to him as "Coach Pep."

Noah: I think he is an intriguing candidate for a number of reasons. He is a relatively young, African-American coach that has a great track record with quarterbacks at Stanford with Luck and Hogan. If Maryland wants to continue on the historical significance of naming Locksley the interim head coach, Hamilton makes sense. The lack of head coaching experience is a bit of a red flag but the fact that he is a young, offensive-minded coach is a big plus. I think he certainly should be on the short list for consideration.

Q: Maryland men's and women's basketball are playing exhibition games this week. Both are ranked in the top-10 in the country (the men's team is third and the women's team is sixth). Make your predictions for how each team will do this year.

Todd: Predictions! Seriously? Okay. Both teams will win a lot more games than they lose.

Andrew K.: Preseason predictions are riskier than weather predictions. They're so many things that can take place, especially injuries, that can cast gloom over the brightest of outlooks. There's certainly the talent on both teams to make serious postseason runs. Beyond that, I want to see the first third of the season before making any predictions.

Brian B: I agree that both teams will finish above .500, but in an effort to avoid playing the role of the jinx (or Jynx for you hardcore Pokemon fans out there), I will refrain from diving any deeper into my prediction.

Carson: I also won't try to get super specific. There's no point because it's the preseason, but I will say that this will be a great year in Terrapins basketball world. However, people need to realize that just because they don't go 30-5 does not make it an unsuccessful season.

Justin: Both teams have the potential for special seasons, but I can't make a prediction for sure until I see how they come out of non-conference play.

Sammi: Both men's and women's basketball are going to DOMINATE.  Diamond Stone and Kiah Gillespie are going to have incredible first seasons with the Terps.  However, I think the best performing players (not necessarily leading in stats) will be Melo for men's and Kristen Confroy for women's.

Thomas: Both teams will reach the conference tournament.

Noah: Sammi, I think your prediction for Confroy is way off but I agree that both the men's and women's basketball teams are poised to have very special seasons. I expect both teams to win the Big Ten title and I expect the women's team to defend their Big Ten tournament title as well. I'm not afraid of going ahead and making predictions right now. I think the women's team will make the Final Four for the third straight season but will lose, once again, in the semifinals. I think the men's team will make the Elite Eight before being eliminated.

Q: Field Hockey became the first Maryland sport to win multiple Big Ten titles, capturing their second straight championship last week after a double overtime win in Iowa. Are your surprised that men's soccer wasn't able to defend their Big Ten title?

Todd: Yes. I know Sasho started a lot of young players but they were highly touted. I expected some rough patches to start the season but haven't seen the developmental arc I've come to expect from a Cirovski coached team.

Brian B: I try wholeheartedly to watch soccer every year...

Carson: Soccer is a tough sport where a lot of things can happen that can change the course of a season. The margin for error is so small when one goal can change a game/season. So it sucks they weren't able to but it's not necessarily a surprise.

Justin: Yes. This team has a lot of talent, but just hasn't been able to put the ball in the net. There have been a  few games this season that they should have won but didn't because of their inability to score.

Sammi: Wait, Maryland has a soccer team?  Just kidding; I'm not surprised, but it's a bit sad.

Thomas: There's not a lot that separates success from failure in soccer. It's a pass not being crisp, a split-second delay in a goalie's reaction to a shot, a referee calling something or letting it slide. Nothing is guaranteed, so there's no reason to be surprised about a team not winning a conference championship. Even if that team has Maryland's talent.

Noah: Maryland came into the season with a team of highly touted kids that was supposed to be singularly focused and relentlessly driven towards their goal of making a deep run in the NCAA Tournament. I haven't seen that from them this year.

Q: What are your bold predictions for Maryland's homecoming game against Wisconsin?

Todd: At least one team will wear red and white uniforms.

Andrew K.: Wisconsin will spoil homecoming.

Brian B: Maryland only turns the ball over twice.

Carson: We see Turgeon on the sideline with a headset on.

Justin: Perry Hills doesn't fumble.

Sammi: Perry Hills carries. Testudo and I will high five on the sidelines. Will Likely will likely make an amazing play.

Thomas: Homecoming isn't ruined by a drunk driver. We Terps should all be above that. Prayers out to those still dealing with loss in Stillwater.

Noah: I predict that Brad Craddock will make a field goal from 50 yards or more. Thomas is right in that we should remember that there is more to life than football. Make good decisions this weekend and if you decide to drink, please do so responsibly. Never, ever drink and drive.

Q: Who wins on Saturday between Maryland and Wisconsin, and what will the final score be?

Todd: I'll go with whatever decision MellophoneMathMajor's coin makes.

Andrew K.: Wisconsin, 38-27.

Brian B: Maryland plays inspired in front of a surprisingly "full" Byrd stadium on homecoming weekend, but the Badgers are still too much. Terps: 31 Wisconsin: 38

Carson: Wisconsin 34, Maryland 21

Justin: Wisconsin 35, Maryland 24

Sammi: Wisconsin 36, Maryland 37.  Let's go for a win for UMD.

Thomas: Wisconsin 35, Maryland 20.

Noah: Wisconsin will wear Maryland down in the second half and win, 38-20