Maryland football notes and a Q&A as Virginia Tech game approaches

The Baltimore Sun

With the Virginia Tech game approaching, I responded to a Maryland Q&A for Andy Bitter, a sports reporter who covers the Hokies for the Virginian-Pilot and Roanoke Times. He will answer some Hokies questions and we will post those as well.

Here are a few other football notes first:

* Coach Randy Edsall was asked today about players’ suggestions that playing football doesn’t seem as fun at this stage of the season as it did when the Terps began the season 4-0.

The coach’s reply: “If you don’t win, it isn’t fun.”

* Edsall did say he is happy to have players air issues or grievances through the team’s leadership council, comprised of 10 players representing offense, defense and special teams.

The council met recently and discussed raising the team’s “intensity” level following last week’s 20-3 loss to Syracuse. 

“Guys have addressed things that maybe they didn’t like,” Edsall said. “It’s good to see they [the council members] are basically doing their jobs.”

* The injury report is due out at 6 p.m.

Here is the Q&A on Maryland:

Andy Bitter: To say Maryland has had some bad injury luck over the years would be an understatement. How have the Terps gone about replacing standout receivers Stefon Diggs and Deon Long, who are out for the year?

Jeff Barker: Maryland doesn’t want to be known for injuries -- there are certainly better things to be associated with -- but it has had more than its share.

The Terps have plugged in backup receivers who have done some good things. But the receivers have also been plagued by drops, and the team has been noticeably hurt by not having top playmakers (Diggs and Long) on the field.

Andy Bitter: C.J. Brown has had some injury issues this year as well, suffering a concussion against Florida State earlier this year. Has he been the same quarterback since returning? And how different is this team when he’s playing well?

Jeff Barker: Maryland is indeed a different team when Brown is playing and healthy. Teams must respect his quickness on read-option plays.

But injuries seem to have taken a toll on him of late. He has taken some hard shots this season. Last week, he didn’t look like the player he can be -- and was in the beginning of the season. In his defense, Maryland’s offensive line is a work in progress.

Andy Bitter: The Terps seem to have moved the ball well this year (5th in the ACC in total offense) but haven’t been very good at turning those yards into points (12th in TDs). What has held them back?

Jeff Barker: Here’s a big reason: Maryland is next-to-last in the conference in third-down conversions (32.6 percent) and last in fourth-down conversions (15.4 percent). And it is 11th in red-zone offense. It had two big chances in Clemson territory two games ago and couldn't score a touchdown.

Andy Bitter: How would you characterize the defense’s performance this year? The numbers might not be quite as good as last year, but it seems like the Terps’ defense is giving them a shot. Who stands out on this side of the ball?

Jeff Barker: Linebacker Cole Farrand had 23 tackles against Clemson, the best statistical performance of the season. The linebackers, when healthy, have turned in some good outings. Farrand is the leading tackler but L.A. Goree and Matt Robinson have had some good outings. Freshman Will Likely has emerged as a promising corner.

Andy Bitter: Maryland is 0-16 after Oct. 13 in the Randy Edsall era. Why has this team been so bad down the stretch in recent years and is there any hope that it avoids that same freefall this season and becomes bowl eligible?

Jeff Barker: Injuries, injuries, injuries. Psychologically, it would be huge for this team going forward to get a win in at least one of its last three games and become bowl eligible. The players certainly believe it’s possible. A win would change the storyline from "injured team" to "injured team overcomes adversity." But Maryland looked flat enough in its last game that team leaders felt compelled to discuss how to raise players' intensity levels.

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