With the football game approaching on Saturday (and basketball season starting... tomorrow!) we sat down with Testudo Times' Dave Tucker to get some questions answered. My answers to Dave's questions are here.
1) Seems like it's been a rough season in College Park. How is the fanbase feeling about the future? Any chance Mike Locksley ends up getting the interim tag removed like Tracy Claeys at Minnesota?
Dave Tucker, Testudo Times: Speculating on the future is one of the few bright spots for Maryland football fans right now. It will be really interesting to see who Maryland ends up hiring and how the job is perceived by others.
I truthfully think Mike Locksley has done a lot of good things since taking over for Randy Edsall. Maryland certainly has seemed more competitive, but is still committing a lot of mental errors. I'd be shocked if they removed the interim tag and gave him the keys. If he had any shot of keeping the job, I think Maryland had to get to a bowl game this year. After the loss to Wisconsin, that's not possible now. I do think, however, that whoever Maryland does hire will try to keep Locksley on staff.
2) Have you enjoyed your time in the Big Ten thus far? Missing the ACC at all?
DT: I think Maryland's success in the B1G in football last year, as well as in basketball, has helped ease the transition. There are definitely times when I get a little ACC nostalgia, like during the ACC-B1G Challenge, but the ACC most fans loved died when they added Boston College, Virginia Tech, Miami and Syracuse.
3) On offense, it looks like the Terps have been significantly more efficient on the ground than through the air. Is that schematic, or is it just an indication that you miss Stefon Diggs and C.J. Brown?
DT: Losing Diggs and Brown has definitely hurt Maryland a lot. But in terms of running, I think their success, especially, is really a product of quarterback Perry Hills and his ability to run. Maryland has struggled a lot this season, regardless of who has been under center, throwing the ball. The Terps has tossed 25 interceptions and just 14 touchdowns this year. Those interceptions have also forced Maryland's defense to be on the field a lot, causing them to get tired and allowing the other team to take advantage. So they've really committed to the run and Hills has done a great job, Prior to the Wisconsin game. he'd put together three straight 100+ yard rushing games. If he can run the ball and not have to force much in the air, he can be pretty effective.
4) On defense, who should MSU be on the lookout for, other than Will Likely? I'm gonna toss special teams in here as well, since Likely is clearly a guy to avoid in that phase of the game too. MSU's special teams are horrible; is Maryland's special teams unit something to fear?
DT: On defense, I think Maryland's defensive line has been flying under the radar a bit this season. They switched from a 3-4 to a 4-3 this year and it has been pretty effective. Keep an eye on junior defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, who is having an incredible season for Maryland, recording ten and a half sacks so far this year as he closes in on the school's single-season record of 13.
In terms of special teams, Maryland has been pretty good in that facet of the game. Will Likely is electric any time he gets the ball, either on a kickoff or punt return. It's probably best to ensure he can't return a kick because he can take it to the house easily.
The Terps will be without their Lou Groza award winning kicker, Brad Craddock,on Saturday against the Spartans. That's a big loss for the Terps.
5) Sneaking in a basketball question since we're #basketballschools. Maryland is slated to be the favorite in the Big Ten this year; I'm guessing expectations are pretty high among the fanbase? Any buzz about mega-recruit (and fantastically named) Diamond Stone?
DT: #BasketballSchools unite. The buzz in College Park and around this team is incredible. There's just something special when Maryland basketball is really good and this year will likely be the most talented team Maryland has had since their national championship season in 2001-2002. The Terps did get some bad news this week, as sophomore guard Dion Wiley will most likely miss the entire season after suffering a meniscus injury. But Maryland has so much depth that it's not the end of the world. It's still a big loss, however, as head coach Mark Turgeon expected him to start.
Diamond Stone has been doing pretty well so far. Turgeon has mentioned that the biggest thing he needs to work on is his defense. But his presence in the middle, along with Robert Carter and Damonte Dodd, should be extremely beneficial to Maryland's offense this season in so many ways. Stone is very talented offensively, but just him being on the court will open up so many other opportunities for Melo Trimble, Jake Layman and others.
Care to venture a score prediction?
DT: Maryland has played better of late. Despite the loss, I think their game against Wisconsin last week was arguably the best they've played all year. That being said, I still think Michigan State is an extremely talented team, led by an extremely good quarterback. The Spartans win, 37-17.
Thanks to Dave!