To preview this weekend's ACC pillow fight between the Eagles and Terrapins, we welcome back the boys from the Maryland blog Testudo Times. In exchange, we answered some questions on BC over at their site.
BC Interruption: We've gone from talking about Danny O'Brien's monster freshman campaign over the summer (and hearing his name mentioned as a Heisman Trophy darkhorse) to watching him take a seat behind C.J. Brown. What ... happened?
Testudo Times: Well, a bunch of things. The scheme changed on him, and it went from something that really utilized his skillset (reading defenses and possessing a strong arm) to a spread-based attack that left him trying to run options and throwing screen passes. That seemed to affect his confidence, and by week three or four he was missing easy throws and easy reads. I also think he might've struggled with the transition from "simply avoiding mistakes and not losing games" to "being relied on to win games."
Brown, meanwhile, was actually a great fit for Crowton's offense, even if the quality of the scheme is questionable. His iffy arm is rarely asked to make tough throws, and Crowton's scheme often calls him to use his feet to make plays, which Brown does with aplomb. So things got worse and worse for Danny, and the coaches obviously liked C.J., and ... well, here we are.
BCI: I see Edsall is going his best Bill Belichick impersonation. Who's it gonna be this weekend? C.J. Brown or Danny O'Brien?
TT: Your guess is as good as mine. He even hinted about maybe using both of them. If I'm forced to go out on a limb, I'd say Brown, because coaches - especially these coaches - believe in the quality of their scheme, and Brown lets them do it the way they want to do it.
BCI: We've seen flashes of brilliance on the Terps offense -- 32 points vs. Miami, 45 points vs. Clemson -- and also some dreadful offense -- nearly getting shut out by Temple. What's the cause of the Maryland offense's inconsistency?
TT: Well, we like to think the Temple game was a giant aberration. I can't even think of a way to explain it. No one showed up for that game, and they just got spanked as a result. If there is an explanation there, it probably has to fall on the scheme and the play of O'Brien, and those things may just be inconsistent by their nature. And as far as a few of the other poor performances go, like FSU or the first half of the WVU game, it was pretty much a case of being overmatched athletically.
But it's important to note that Maryland's gotten a fair amount of help from their defense in the points department. The defense scored 14 (a fumble recovery TD and a pick-six) against Miami, and they got another pick-six against Clemson. All of a sudden, 18 points against a Miami team missing half of its defense due to suspension doesn't look so impressive.
BCI: What hideous uniforms will the Terps break out this weekend? Are you a fan of Under Armour making Maryland the Oregon of the East?
TT: We don't know yet - it'll be announced later - but I'd guess we'll see the shellmet (the white, shell-themed helmet) with a red jersey. As for the second part of that question: yes, I love it. It's a little bit painful when they're losing, but it's a step Maryland's program has to take right now. You hear positive comments about them all the time from recruits, and that goes a surprisingly long way toward making Maryland football cool in the area. Maryland football has never been cool. For the past five or six years, it hasn't even been relevant in the area among recruits, nevermind nationally. Some recruits associate "cool uniforms" with "program relevancy," and everyone wants to be relevant. The idea is to get the foot in the door with those types, and Maryland's never had something like that before.
BCI: Requisite ACC expansion question. You cool with the additions of Syracuse and Pitt? Will the ACC stop at 14? If not, who ya got for 15 and 16?
TT: We're more than cool with it. I've long been of the opinion that the ACC needed to get more northern, if only to bring the geographic center of the conference farther and farther from NC. Maryland fans have believed since the 60's and 70's that they've been the ACC's red-headed northern stepchildren, and the more we can do to change that perception the better. I frankly hope they don't stop, although I'm okay with 14. The final two would ideally be something like UConn/Rutgers and Notre Dame. (Although I should still say I'm not entirely ready to step off the "Maryland to the Big Ten" train.)
BCI: Last one. Prediction time. Who ya got? What's the final score?
TT: This could go either way, especially with Maryland's uncertainty at QB, but I think the home-field advantage should help out a bit and give the Terrapins a close win. Somewhere around 24-20.