This week, our Q&A is brought to us by Ben Broman from the blog Testudo Times. He was kind enough to answer a few questions about Notre Dame's upcoming
away home game with Maryland. I answered a few questions from Ben and they can be found here.
1. How do you feel about the way Maryland handled the coaching situation last season? Any regrets regarding James Franklin or are you happy with Randy Edsall?
Depending on your viewpoint, the handling was somewhere between "messy" and "a total fiasco". Everything was handled supremely inelegantly, from the way Friedgen was fired to the search to the ultimate decision to hire Edsall. It was just asking for the fanbase to be disgruntled with the entire situation, and I don't think most fans have ever really gotten over it. It's funny to bring up Franklin, and I've made a point of not doing it because I don't think anyone wanted him to be the HC after he failed as an offensive coordinator. Of course, as it turns out he's a great program CEO and just about everyone would trade for him right now. Of course, part of the reason he's working so well is that his infectious energy is so different for Vanderbilt, and of course it wouldn't be different at all for Maryland. So part of his success probably wouldn't translate. Still, he's making us look like fools.
As for Edsall, I don't think anyone is happy with him. There's definitely a camp who is in "wait and see" mode, but if I talked to a Maryland fan today and they told me they were legitimately happy with the direction of the program, I'd be a little shocked. He's taken a nine-win team and just about blown it up. Now they're hurtling toward a 2-10 year, half the program is up in arms and ready to transfer, recruiting is middling at best, and to top it all off he can't figure out how to deal with the press. He can certainly turn it around and does have the track record of a decent coach, but given that the rationale for the move was to take Maryland "from good to great," I think most are considering him a failure at this point.
2. I guess the big news in the ACC is the recent addition of Pitt and Syracuse. Do you think this is a good move by the conference? If the whole superconference thing happens, it's likely that Notre Dame will be looking to the ACC. Do you have any thoughts on this?
It was a great move by the conference, especially for Maryland. I've been calling for Pitt and Cuse to be added for the past year-and-a-half. Ever since the 70's most Marylanders have felt sort of excluded as the "northern member" of a Carolina-centric conference (obviously that changed a bit when BC came in during the 2000s), so moving the geographic center north is a positive. By taking a proactive and sensible approach here, the ACC looks to be safe from any raids, increased its worth, and didn't sell its soul.
Of course, I think just about everyone would love to add Notre Dame. From the prestige both athletically and academically to the fact it's a cash cow, it's pretty obvious it'd be a boon for everyone involved. If John Swofford was able to somehow get the Fighting Irish on board, I think you have to consider the way the ACC moved through all of this to be just about perfect.
3. How do you feel about the two quarterback system? Do you think it's effective or would you rather stick with one guy?
Normally I'm not in favor, but in this situation it does make some sense. Neither Danny O'Brien nor C.J. Brown has really established themselves as starter-worthy this year and they're so different that bringing in Brown as a change-of-pace really does work. When it's used as it should be - like the first half against Virginia, where Brown came in and led a touchdown drive before heading back off the field - it's been an effective system. The problem is that Edsall and Gary Crowton haven't really proven that they can consistently use it as it should be used. In the second half of last week's game he moved from the normal rotation to making a change whenever one of them made a mistake. It ends up with both looking over their shoulder and guarantees that the offense can't find rhythm.
If I had faith in Edsall or Crowton's ability to handle it properly, I'd love the two-QB system. As it is, I'm praying they'll pick one and give him room to make mistakes without giving him the hook.
4. How do Maryland fans feel about this game? Was this circled on the calendar before the season started or is this just another OOC game with the ACC schedule being more important?
There's a sizable portion of the fanbase that doesn't really care about football right now, given that this is basically a lost season. In all honesty, though, this has the potential to be a very important game for Maryland. Edsall needs a win that he can point to in the worst way - it'd help in recruiting, in fundraising, job security, and just about every aspect of the program. A victory over Notre Dame would let him say that the team is trending upwards, could get some fans over to his side, and might help in recruiting some of the high-level guys still on their radar (like Ronald Darby, whom they're trying to flip). A win over Clemson or FSU probably would've helped more, but given that their schedule only has N.C. State and Wake Forest after this, it's is a pretty big deal.
5. Who's a player on each side of the ball Irish fans should be on the lookout for?
Offensively, keep an eye out for Matt Furstenburg at tight end. He was Maryland's best receiver early in the year and was deadly on Gary Crowton's preferred tight end screens. Teams have since started to focus in on him, but if he gets loose he can do some damage. On the other side of the ball, defensive tackle Joe Vellano is just about guaranteed to blow up a few plays. He leads all interior linemen in tackles and, frankly, I wouldn't trade him for any DT in the country. He is criminally underrated.
6. Who ya got?
Notre Dame by 17. Things are close early thanks to two Irish turnovers, but Maryland's offense can't point up points on a long field and Maryland's defense can't stop ND when they're executing.
So there you have it. Thanks again to Ben and the guys over at Testudo Times! I hope to see everyone at the Open Thread tomorrow!