Rutgers plays their last game of the football regular season tomorrow at noon against fellow Big Ten newcomer Maryland. After both teams exceeded expectations last season, Maryland has had an even worse year on the field than Rutgers. They enter 2-9 and haven't won a game since September 19th against South Florida. They fired head coach Randy Edsall mid-season and have played better under interim head coach Mike Locksley. Despite not winning under Locksley, the Terps have been much more competitive against top tier Big Ten teams than Rutgers has.
To find out the current state of the Maryland football program, we spoke with Dave Tucker, the co-managing editor of Testudo Times, SB Nation's Maryland site. Here is what he had to say.
It has been a difficult season to say the least for Maryland football. After Randy Edsall was dismissed, the team has played better but is still searching for a win. Is there any chance that interim head coach Mike Locksley will be retained? Who seems to be Maryland's top targets as next head coach?
I can't imagine Maryland giving the job to Locksley at this point. Had they gone on a run and maybe made it to a bowl game I could see it, but not at this point. And with some of the names being tied to the Maryland job, it makes it even more unlikely in my opinion.
The biggest name recently tied to Maryland was Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen. There were rumblings a few weeks ago about Houston Texans head coach Bill O'Brien and on Wednesday, Yahoo!'s Pat Ford linked Michigan defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin to Maryland. If Maryland could land Mullen, I think he'd be their top target.
With everything that has happened this season, what is the current mood of the fanbase? What the heck happened with the almost non-existent turnout on senior day? Is there still hope for the future despite not having a head coach, based on current infrastructure in place and top recruit Dwayne Haskins still being committed?
Maryland fans will most definitely support a winning team and if they make a big splash hire, they'll be there supporting the Terps. The pictures from last Saturday were somewhat misleading. The crowd filled in a lot. The upper deck wasn't by any means full, but the lower bowl filled in a lot.
Randy Edsall alienated a lot of people from the moment he arrived. Many weren't happy with how he left his players at Connecticut, a large group never wanted former Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen dismissed, and then Maryland went 2-10 during Edsall's first year. After the Terps' success last year. Edsall got some of those supporters back, but he quickly lost that support following the loss to Bowling Green.
If Maryland makes the right hire, Maryland will be fine.
Maryland has thrown a ton of interceptions this season. What is the health status of quarterbacks Perry Hills and Caleb Rowe for Saturday? If they can't go and Shane Cockerille gets the start, does he offer Maryland a better chance to win?
Perry Hills had mono and didn't play last week, but was on top of Maryland's depth chart this week. Rowe suffered a concussion but appears to be okay. I'd expect Hills to start by if anyone struggles, don't be surprised if you see any of these three under center.
Cockerille was a highly touted QB when he committed to the Terps but Maryland actually moved him to full back before putting him back at QB during the middle of this season. He hasn't been good throwing the ball at all but is a capable runner.
With the emergence of Brandon Ross, peaking last week with 250 yards rushing against Indiana, should Rutgers expect a run heavy gameplan despite having major issues in the secondary?
Maryland does best when they can run the ball. They can get some solid run blocking out of their large offensive line. Ross was able to have multiple 70+ yard runs last week. I think Maryland will try to establish the run and use it to set up the pass.
What has been the driving force for Maryland in staying relatively competitive during their season of turmoil? They have hung with the top tier teams much more effectively than Rutgers, so any guidance is appreciated!
Maryland has a lot of talent on their team, but turnovers this season have just been a killer. They've just thrown so many interceptions that it undermines gives other teams too many opportunities to score. Maryland's new 4-3 defense has also played well, especially up front. Their secondary has struggled, but overall they've played reasonably well, especially in the first year of a new scheme.
Has Will Likely become the face of the program and how has his role expanded since Locksley took over? Who do you think will make the Big Ten first team as kick returner, Likely or Janarion Grant?
He's done a lot for Maryland, playing special teams, defense and now even taking snaps on offense. Locksley had definitely tried to get him more involved on offense.
I think Likely will be 1st team as kick returner but he needs to have a solid showing on Saturday.
How do Maryland fans view Rutgers and what are your thoughts on this match-up ever becoming a true rivalry? We do have a mutual dislike for Penn State. What kind of fan turnout do you expect from Maryland at Saturday's game?
I think it can turn into a rivalry, but mostly in football. I think what happened last season was a good start, after Rutgers' epic comeback. I'd love to see a Maryland-Rutgers-Penn State trophy created.
I personal know a lot of Maryland fans going to Saturday's game. I don't think it will be super overwhelming, but there will probably be more Maryland fans there than you'd expect.
What is your prediction for the game?
I think Maryland finally wins again, pulling out a 27-24 win.
I wanted to thank Dave for taking the time to answer our questions regarding the Maryland football team. Check out Testudo Times for all you need to know about the Terps headed into tomorrow's game. To read my answers to Dave's questions, click here.