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Q&A with Matt of turtlewaxing.blogspot.com

October 24, 2008
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Every week I like to track down a blogger covering the Pack’s opponent for the upcoming game.

This week’s guest is Matt of turtlewaxing.blogspot.com. Based on the clarity of his answers he’s not nearly as schizo as the team he pulls for; we get into that, the weapons the Terps will bring to bear on the Pack up in College Park and, of course, barbecue.

(Continues)

It’s been a crazy year for the league as a whole, but in particular for the Terrapins. What can you attribute the Jekyll and Hyde nature of the Maryland football team to?

It is hard to say. The upsets the Terps have scored (Clemson, Wake Forest and California) have all come against teams with some serious flaws. I’m not sure they have beaten a truly competent squad yet. I think the staff is struggling to prepare this group week to week but I also think the lack of senior leaders is a large factor in the inconsistency. That isn’t to say players like DT Jeremy Navarre or C Edwin Williams are not good kids, but they are not natural leaders.

It looks like Chris Turner has a stranglehold on the quarterback position at this point. What’s your assessment of his performance to date?

I think he has played well. He certainly is the most competent QB on the roster. He has a tendency to spray the ball around sometimes and will force throws into coverage but he has a swagger and confidence that is innate to good QB’s. Last week against Wake was probably his most solid performance of the season. He does have a poor game from time to time and his game preparation could be better.

Darius Heywood-Bey is obviously the star receiver for the Terps, but Turner involved eight other pass-catchers in the win against Wake Forest last week. Other than Bey, who are the other targets State defenders should look to shut down?

Tight end Dan Gronkowski has become a reliable target in the middle of the field and he seems to have established a rapport with Turner. Slot receiver Danny Oquendo has great hands and a knack for finding the open areas in a zone. The rest of the receiver corps has talent but they are too inconsistent to be worried about as individuals.

The Terrapin defense pitched a shutout against Wake but had 31 hung on them the week before against Virginia…what’s the read on the Terp defense? What’re their strengths or weaknesses?

A weakness would be coordinator Chris Cosh. Seriously. Against Virginia they played a 1970’s style read and react defense and got picked apart. The game plan against Wake was much more aggressive, partly because the defense got to play with a lead for most of the game. The linebackers are fast and aggressive but not always the best in coverage. The defensive line has improved but is still a weakness. Corner Kevin Barnes may miss the rest of the season and he was the best player on the defensive side of the ball. Terrell Skinner, Nolan Carroll and Jamari McCoullough are all good players in the secondary but Barnes was on another level. A short passing game and scrambling QB could still give this group all kinds of problems.

Ralph Friedgen started off hotter than any coach in America when he took over at Maryland, but he’s since cooled down a bit in recent years…what’s the public opinion among Maryland fans about Ralph and the job he’s doing?

I think the opinion is mixed. He accrued a fair amount of good will with those first three seasons and has been trading off that for a long time, although that well may be drying up. He is certainly the best coach since the Bobby Ross era, which is about 20 years ago now. His comments after the Wake Forest game about the fans who didn’t show up didn’t endear him to many fans. That is an example of his defensiveness and somewhat adversarial relationship with the fan base. It borders on the bizarre sometimes. When he anointed Jordan Steffy as the starter at QB before the season there was a near revolt in the booster circles. He can be tone deaf to the fan sentiment at times.

Bonus question I ask all my Q&A participants: Have you ever had Eastern NC style BBQ, can you differentiate it from its inferior cousin Lexington Style BBQ (sometimes referred to incorrectly as “Western NC” BBQ), and have you ever used the term “barbecue” as a verb?

My in-laws live in Fayetteville so I guess I should be able to answer this. The Eastern style is a thinner vinegar based sauce while the Lexington style is a more traditional sweet tomato BBQ sauce if I’m not mistaken. I’m a big fan of the Eastern style pulled pork, though I’ve never been to a pig pickin’ myself. Hope I got those correct.

As a Fayetteville native I sympathize with Matt for ever having to visit the town, especially for a visit to the in-laws. Fayette-Nam, indeed…

Interesting stuff regarding Friedgen, not unlike some of the sentiment regarding Amato once Rivers left, i.e. trading on previous success, ruffling feathers with segments of the fanbase, etc.

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