We’re back with our Q&A segment. This week, it’s Pete Volk who was kind enough to answer a few questions for us about what to expect out of Maryland this week when they go against Michigan. Pete is the deputy editor of SB Nation’s college football page, as well as the managing editor of Testudo Times, SB Nation’s Maryland Terrapins branch.
1. Maryland played some very solid defense for three quarters last weekend against Michigan State. How much of that do you think carries over to this week’s game against Michigan?
Maryland has been good defensively pretty much all year, so I imagine it’ll carry over quite well. Their yardage and points stats don’t support it, but the advanced rate stats do. Part of the issue has been Maryland’s offense has been so dreadful that the defense has had to be on the field for long stretches of time, most of the time in poor field position. The Terrapins have a strong defensive unit, however, and with Michigan’s offensive struggles I expect it to be a low-scoring game.
2. Michigan’s defensive front played a stellar game against Northwestern two weekends ago. Obviously Frank Clark is no longer with the team, but there definitely is not a lack of talent remaining. Will Maryland’s offensive line be up to the task?
Probably not. Maryland has struggled on the offensive line all year, particularly at the tackle positions, and that has shown in the offense’s struggles. C.J. Brown has been the worst quarterback in the country over the past few games, but that is in no small part due to the amount of pressure he’s faced in the pocket.
3. Maryland and Michigan are both working with fifth-year seniors at quarterback, and it hasn’t been pretty in either situation to say the least. Though Brown does find his yards, his touchdown-turnover ration of 11-9 isn’t where it needs to be. Do you think this will be a matter of which quarterback can avoid the mistakes this weekend?
I think that will be one of the key factors. Both Brown and Gardner are mobile quarterbacks who have not had the opportunity to use their legs quite as much as they’d like. As a result, mistakes have happened — whoever throws the least interceptions (or the least important ones) might end up with the one.
4. Talk about what you think this first season in the Big Ten has offered Maryland. This is a bowl-bound team with six wins and two games remaining, and the opportunity to get wins seven and eight are right there. There weren’t too many people who had high hopes for this team before the season began, so what has it been like to watch these guys hold their own?
It’s been more than a little vindicating, as the “Maryland can’t compete in the Big Ten” narrative was tiring for those of us who knew this team was a solid middle-of-the-road team in the conference. Conference narratives tire me in general, to be honest, so it’s been pleasing for me to see Maryland play to their ability this season. I expected seven-to-eight wins coming into the year, and that’s almost certainly what will happen.
5. Your prediction for the game.
This is a tough one, as many of Michigan’s strengths match up quite well with Maryland’s weaknesses, but the same could be said the other way around. I’m picking Maryland, 21-17, because the Terps have beaten every single team they should have so far this season, and I think 2014 Michigan counts in that category (sorry, Wolverines, and best of luck with your coaching search).