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Testudo Times Roundtable: Dealing with the Bowling Green loss, predicting USF game

Testudo Times staff writers and contributors gather to commiserate after Maryland football's loss to Bowling Green last week and to discuss Maryland's upcoming game against South Florida.

Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

Testudo Times Roundtable

Week of 9/14

Let's talk about what happened.

Q: What were your initial thoughts and emotions as you watched Bowling Green pull away from Maryland last Saturday?

Brian B: Naturally, at first I was pretty ‘angry', but then I stepped back and asked myself ‘why do I care?' And this game pretty much affirmed that I shouldn't care, not enough to get ‘upset' anyway. So I ended the game feeling a sense of relief as now I can spend the rest of the college football season watching the Terps objectively as early signs point to the Terps being quite sub-par. My significant other is a Clemson grad, so perhaps I will hop on the Tigre (pronounced: tee-gray) bandwagon until November when Melo and Co. can make me proud to be a UMD grad again.

Todd: Okay, so I can't honestly say that I was as indifferent as Brian (then again, here I sit drinking beer at 3:00 on a Tuesday) but I can't say I was surprised that Maryland lost. I thought this game was a loseable game because of the tempo and high powered nature of Bowling Green's offense. It felt a lot like the Marshall game in the Military Bowl. The margin shocked me. In the end it's just another brick in the road to a new coaching staff.

Andrew K.: Deja Vu. It reminded me of the Temple game in 2011, which revealed substantial weaknesses across the board. I hope that this doesn't portend another 2-10 season. Let's see how the team fares against USF. If it's a loss or a slim win (a la Towson in 2011), then I fear the worst.

Carson: I don't know if "rage" is the right word, but it was something close to it. It was similar to the feeling you had as a kid when your parents would start talking about you negatively to other people but you didn't have a chance to defend yourself so you just had to sit there, smile, and take it (maybe I got overly angry when this happened to me as a kid). It is just so frustrating to see the same thing over and over again and not see any changes. I had a feeling this game was going to be tricky coming into it, but this was just embarrassing.

Anthony B.: I was really disappointed in the way the team played in the second half. Especially on the defensive side. However, Maryland needed this to happen to them. I say that because they needed to realize that every offense no matter what team they're facing is dangerous.

Robbie: I felt let down by the team. It sounds ridiculous, but after last year's strong season (besides the final two games), I was thinking we could maybe reach eight wins. Then the team came out with an incredibly flat performance, and the quarterback job is farther from being solved than before the game.

Noah: Disappointed in the effort. Disappointed in the coaching staff. Plain disappointed. When Maryland football shows a glimpse of potential, they bring your expectations crashing right back down. Last year's game against Rutgers was incredibly hard to watch and brutal in its result but that is almost what I have come to expect from Maryland football. Andrew was spot on about this being very similar to the game against Temple where Maryland got ROCKED and barely any students (or fans) were there to see the game through to the end.

Q: What aspect of Maryland's performance against Bowling Green disappointed you the most?

Brian B: Short answer: lack of a running game.

Todd: The first thought in my mind was play calling but that's been so consistently sub-par that I shouldn't be disappointed. I'd have to say Sean Davis getting so badly exposed at cornerback.

Andrew K.: Twenty seven points should be enough to beat a MAC team. It was the poor tackling on defense that disturbed me the most.

Carson: The lack of any sort of adjustments from the coaching staff, namely the fact that we passed the ball over 60% of the time against a team that couldn't stop anything on the ground the week before.

Anthony B: Pass Defense. It was atrocious.

Robbie: Perry Hills. We heard all off-season about all the work he put in and how he won the job, but he still looks lost behind center.

Noah: I knew the defense was going to struggle at times this year but I didn't think they'd give up 500 yards passing, even to Bowling Green's dynamic offense.

Q: Was there any silver lining to be gleaned from last week's game?

Brian B: I have a feeling a lot of these questions will set me up to answer negatively. So I am going to say yes, Will Likely's punt return was beautiful.

Todd: Probably that "it's just another brick in the road to a new coaching staff."

Andrew K.: William Likely's performance against Richmond wasn't a fluke. The guy is a danger to return it to the house on every kick or punt return.

Carson: I agree with Andrew to an extent-Will Likely's punt returning abilities are no fluke. However his muffed punt put a large blemish on what would have been another outstanding performance. So I'm not sure I would personally call that a "silver lining".

Anthony B: I'd have to go with the group and say special teams. Will Likely is a special talent and definitely could be making those same plays on Sundays.

Robbie: There now seems to be little doubt that Dwayne Haskins Jr. will start right away next year. Hopefully it will now be obvious to him he can start right away, which should keep his commitment no matter the team's record.

Noah: The countdown to Dwayne Haskins Jr. has officially started. It doesn't matter if this season has barely begun.

Q: On a scale of 1-10, how embarrassing and devastating a loss is this?

Brian B: I would say nine or ten on the embarrassment scale, not simply based on the final outcome, but other factors as well. I made the unfortunate decision to attend this game at the last moment. While the stadium was quite empty at kickoff, an hour weather delay at half time rendered the stadium essentially empty. I am not exaggerating when I say that the total amount of people remaining in their seats for the second half probably approached the 3,000 mark, and considering the performance of the Terps  play on the field as of late I do not see support increasing anytime soon.

Todd: On the embarrassing scale, I'll have to go all Spinal Tap and turn it up to 11. Lest you think this contradicts my statement that I thought this was a game Maryland could lose, it's still a game they should have won because Bowling Green hadn't beaten a Power 5 team on the road since sometime in the 18th century, I believe.

Andrew K.: I'd say a "9". We didn't lose 48-0 is the only thing keeping this from being a "10".  As I said above, let's see how the team responds against USF before calling the undertaker.

Carson: To me this was a 9, and should Will Likely not have run back that punt, it would be a 10. If Maryland gave them all they had and lost, so be it, I can live with that. But I don't think that was the case (I don't mean the players "giving it their all", just the general gameplan, adjustments, mental errors, etc.)

Anthony B: I'd say a 6. It was already known throughout the week leading up that Bowling Green's offense was lethal but as I said in a previous question, Maryland's defense can learn and hopefully grow from getting 692 total yards put up on them. Growth starts with the pass defense first.

Robbie: I think it is a 7. This was Bowling Green's first road victory against a team from a power 5 conference in seven years. We had no business losing this game, yet we lost it decisively.

Noah: I'd say it is a 9. When you lose at home to a MAC team by three touchdowns and you were favored to beat them by double digits, that's unacceptable. There were so many breakdowns in this game that were avoidable and the coaching staff's inability to adapt or adjust showcased an awful lot of incompetence.

Q: Who does this game tell you more about: Bowling Green or Maryland?

Brian B: It says much more about Maryland. We knew that Bowling Green had a fast paced offense that was poised to put up a lot of yards and a reasonable amount of points against an inexperienced Maryland defense. We hoped that our offense could counter that against what seemingly was a terrible Bowling Green defense. They didn't.

Todd: I have to agree with Brian that this says more about Maryland. I think it just casts Maryland's coaching staff in a shockingly negative light.

Andrew K.: It's not a question of telling us more, but it sheds a different light on both teams. Bowling Green's offense can score quickly and often, as they showed the week before against Tennessee. Matt Johnson has a strong and accurate arm, and reads the field well. This team could be a trap game on many B1G teams' schedule (actually, they beat Indiana last year). Maryland has problems across the board, starting with the fundamentals: tackling, catching passes, communication in the secondary, etc...

Carson: 100% Maryland. Maryland fans knew coming into the game that Bowling Green was a fast paced offensive team, that would put up some points. However the question still remained as to how good the Terps actually are. This game was a game that needed to be won, and it wasn't even close. Nothing new was learned about Bowling Green, however A LOT was learned about Maryland.

Anthony B: Bowling Green for me. They have now put up 78 points in two games and one high point game was against an SEC opponent in Tennessee. They have the ability to take some mid level and contending teams to task and time will only tell how good they really can become.

Robbie: It says a lot about Bowling Green's offense, but it says a whole lot more about Maryland's defense. They haven't shown up these first two games, and they have a home game against South Florida to prepare for the annual air show Dana Holgorsen's teams put on.

Noah: It says a lot about Bowling Green but it says more about Maryland. I say that because Bowling Green exposed so many of Maryland's weaknesses in this game. There is no way that we can look at this Maryland team in the same light now. By the time the fourth quarter started and ended, Bowling Green had completely changed the expectations for Maryland's season.

Q: At this time, is Maryland the worst team in the Big Ten?

Brian B: I don't know, the easy answer is yes, but Indiana and Penn State have not looked particularly phenomenal either. Maryland lost to Middle Tennessee State in 2008 (The Blue Raiders ended that season 5-7) and still managed to put together a pretty respectable season. However, being three days removed from the most embarrassing defeat in recent memory, many fans are probably feeling like Maryland is indeed in the worst team in the Big Ten, and sadly, they might be right.

Todd: I'll pass on this since I haven't seen enough of the bottom of the B1G to make a judgement. It certainly looks like Maryland's pretty bad, though.

Andrew K.: Not necessarily. There are a few teams in the B1G that the Terps might be able to beat. Ask me this again in two weeks.

Carson: Piggybacking off of what everyone else has said, I think the hot take is to say yes, Maryland is the worst team in the B1G. And no one can really fault someone for saying that, however I still don't believe they are. I also haven't seen much of the likes of Indiana or Purdue, but I think by the year's end, Maryland will not be the worst team in the B1G.

Anthony B: Let's see how Penn State, Iowa and Rutgers fair throughout the season and I'll be able to give a definitive yes/no.

Robbie: I don't think so. Two weeks into the season seems too early to make such a claim, especially with other schools like Penn State and Rutgers not looking strong either.

Noah: At this point in the season, yes. They might end up with more wins than Rutgers or Purdue by the end of the season but they are unquestionably the worst in the conference at the moment.

Q: How much of last week's loss do you lay at the feet (and hands) of Perry Hills?

Brian B:  While Perry Hills had a less than spectacular performance against a less than spectacular defense, I am more inclined to sprinkle the blame all around. You can blame the play calling, as a lot of our experienced backs got few touches against a run defense that got torched a week prior. Also it is difficult to blame Hills for the Maryland defense surrendering nearly 700 yards of total offense to the Falcons.

Todd: This is a tricky question. In terms of performance and effort none. What I'm more convinced of is that the coaches didn't put him in the best position to succeed and that's their job.

Andrew K.: Not very much. As I said earlier, 27 points should have won the game. Also, there were a number of drive-killing dropped passes. Hills was our best running threat.

Carson: While, in my opinion, it became clear that Hills is not our guy this year, I don't think this game was his fault really at all. Let's remember that Hills isn't necessarily failing to meet expectations. We knew what we were getting with him at QB. It's not like he was once a Heisman candidate and is now playing very poorly. He is roughly what we knew he'd be. The fact that the gameplan was to pass more than run against a team that can't stop the run is the responsibility of the coaching staff, who failed the team on Saturday.

Anthony B: I say 50 percent. The other half was on the defense. Special teams was the only bright spot.

Robbie: Perry Hills did not impress anyone, but I'm not sure he deserves more blame than anyone else. Nobody played up to their expected performance, and that's why we were blown out at home to a team that was thought to be inferior.

Noah: The defense deserves more blame in my opinion so I'll throw 40 percent out there. While Perry didn't play great in this game, he wasn't playing terribly either. I thought he got yanked too quickly and a steady run game throughout the game would have helped him more. Todd is right in that the coaches didn't put him in the best position to succeed.

Q: In doing the almost impossible (throwing more interceptions than completions) and achieving a passer rating of 0.00, why is Caleb Rowe the right move for the Terps at quarterback?

Brian B: The Terps as of right now are shaping up to be a pretty bad team, and what do bad teams change most frequently, coaches and quarterbacks. Since I do not see Edsall getting shown the door anytime soon, (I got death stares at the game on Saturday for making negative comments about our head coach) the natural inclination for any team in this situation is to shake things up at quarterback.

Todd: Here's the odd thing, for me. In the story on TT that announced the change, I asked how a quarterback's throws affect their catchability. I hope this improves when a stronger armed quarterback is in the game and we'll see fewer drops. I'm also going to give Rowe a bit of a pass on the BG effort not because of the game situation but because I'm guessing a certain lack of practice and lack of work with the first team might have had an impact as well. Let's see how he fares after working with the first team this week.

Andrew K.: I'm not sure it is. It might make more sense to let DJ Moore and Taivon Jacobs get some added PT.

Carson: He's the right move because Hills isn't. Hills has struggled to produce against a FCS team and a MAC team. There's no reason to believe that he will suddenly produce against better teams. So why not move on and put another quarter in the machine? Rowe isn't necessarily the answer either, but at this point in the season, what is there to lose? I'd like to see what Garmann has as well. Give them both a chance in a live game situation, see who looks more comfortable, see who gives us the best chance to win games, and move on.

Anthony B: Rowe showed promise last season in relief of C.J. Brown and I feel he is the right guy to replace Hills. I don't know how he will do under center for Maryland moving forward but Maryland needs to do something in order to avoid a sophomore slump in the Big Ten conference.

Robbie: He's the right move because we need some stability on the field, and Rowe should he could provide that last year. He has not looked good this year, but we know he can play.

Noah: In my opinion, Rowe takes too many risks. That is going to cost Maryland in close games. I think Perry deserved a shot to start against South Florida. C.J. was benched at times last season but kept getting opportunities to start.

Q: What part of Maryland's team needs the most improvement?

Brian B: Yes.

Todd: Sorry, Brian's wrong here. Special teams are fine. Offense and defense on the other hand...

Andrew K.: It starts at the top.

Carson: I think Todd is right, special teams has been solid. So I'll go with the secondary. Besides Likely, this secondary has not lived up to the expectations they had coming into the season.

Anthony B: Quarterback and secondary moving forward.

Robbie: I think our offensive line and special teams looked solid, everything else needs great improvement.

Noah: Clearly the secondary and quarterback play need to drastically improve but the play-calling from the coaching staff is not off the hook. It was atrocious last week.

Q: Have your expectations for Maryland's season changed slightly or drastically?

Brian B:  Slightly, my expectations for Maryland football this season were not too high. I thought that they might squeak into some bowl if they were able to win all of their games against lesser competition. Last Saturday they lost one of said a lot. So I'd say my expectations went from bad to badder.

Todd: I'll go with slightly. Last season's Terps were very good at rebounding from losses so I come down on the side of slightly. I think the season still has the possibility of finishing in the meh 5-7 range that I anticipated before the season. But I'm right on the edge of drastically and will fall into that category if they lose again on Saturday.

Andrew K.: Drastically. I thought that this team would go 6-6, maybe 7-5 with a break or two. At this point I think we'll go 4-8, possibly 3-9.

Carson: Yes, but not necessarily drastically. I think if they get to above .500 that's a huge accomplishment. I won't really know what to expect until we see how Rowe fares. But I'm not optimistic anymore by any means.

Anthony B: Above .500 would be a big accomplishment for the Terps. I'd say the loss was a slight against them. They can come back from this, they just need to do things a lot better on game day.

Robbie: They've changed slightly. I hoped we could maybe hit seven wins, but I'm not sure how doable that is anymore. I think it is too early to completely write off this team though.

Noah: Slightly. I thought this team could get six or seven wins before the season. I think six would be very tough for them now but five is in reach.

Q: What are your bold predictions for Saturday's game against South Florida?

Brian B: Caleb Rowe shakes off his play against Bowling Green and proves himself to be a competent ball slinger, he still finishes the game with two interceptions, but compliments that with four tossing scores.

Todd: There will be no stadium evacuation.

Andrew K.: The stadium will resemble Wake Forest during football season.

Carson: This isn't necessarily "bold" but I think we see another Likely special teams TD.

Anthony B: 300 yard passing game and multiple touchdown game from Caleb Rowe in addition to a 100 yard game from one Terp wideout

Robbie: This is the last game Caleb Rowe starts.

Noah: Daxx Garman will take over for Rowe in the second half.

Q: Maryland turned the ball over six times last year against South Florida and nearly lost. Will the Terps beat the Bulls on Saturday and what will the final score be?

Brian B: 31-24 Maryland...for reasons unknown, but if they turn it over six times again there is no way they escape with a victory again.

Todd: My stance on predicting scores remains unchanged.

Andrew K.: Maryland 23-21

Carson: 28-20 Maryland

Anthony B: 35-28 Maryland

Robbie: 35-31 Maryland

Noah: Maryland over South Florida 24-21