Each week, MetroNews will hear from a beat writer who covers West Virginia’s opponent. Today we’re joined by John McNamara of The Annapolis Capital, where he reports on Maryland football.
METRONEWS: Randy Edsall’s 2-10 debut was brutal, and then he lost 20-something transfers. How long does he have to turn around the program?
McNamara: Where Edsall is concerned, Maryland fans would just like to see some progress. Last year was a disaster. Injuries mounted and Maryland wasn’t competitive in many games late in the season because of the lack of depth. It culminated in an embarrassing loss to N.C. State in the regular-season finale in which Maryland blew a 27-point lead in the second half. This year, things have clearly been better. They’ve got a pair of wins already, matching last year’s total, and the good start already has taken some of the heat off Edsall.
METRONEWS: A year ago, Perry Hillis had no major-college offers outside of Maryland. Now, because of injury and attrition, he’s the Terps’ starting quarterback as a true freshman. How’s he progressing?
McNamara: Even after three games, it is apparent that Perry Hills will be a fine quarterback before he’s done at Maryland. Fans and coaches just have to grit their teeth through some rough patches for the time being. Hills threw three quick interceptions against William & Mary in the season opener and started off against Connecticut 2-for-11 passing. But he went 11-for-21 with a pair of touchdown passes and a touchdown run as Maryland won at Temple. So, there are signs that better days are ahead, in terms of the quarterback situation. Maryland had a seasoned starter in C.J. Brown, but he tore up his knee in the preseason and will miss the entire year. That’s what forced Hills into the starting lineup.
METRONEWS: How good is Maryland’s defense and can it rattle Geno Smith?
McNamara: With so many young players having learned under fire last year, the improvement in Maryland’s defense is obvious. Turnovers have put the defense in some bad positions so far, but it has allowed only 57 points in three games — and one of the touchdowns that UConn scored came on a punt return. Suffice to say, Maryland hasn’t faced an offense with the explosive potential of West Virginia’s yet, but WVU also hasn’t faced a defense as good as Maryland’s, either. Remember, before the injuries mounted for the Terrapins, Maryland played WVU pretty tough (37-31) last year. Having said all that, it’s difficult to imagine Maryland (or anyone else, for that matter) holding West Virginia to less than 30 points in a game.
METRONEWS: Terps fans are probably more concerned with ACC opponents, but how much are they irked by the six straight losses to West Virginia?
McNamara: I don’t have the sense that Maryland’s recent run of futility against WVU is a big issue among the fan base. I think people understand that WVU is just a better program right now. Feelings about the lopsided nature of the rivalry in recent years is mitigated somewhat by the fact that some of the losses (like last year’s) have been close.
METRONEWS: Any chance we’ll see some of last year’s zany uniforms again, or has Under Armour given up on making Maryland the Oregon of the East?
McNamara: The whole uniform phenomenon has calmed down from last year. Under Armour found Kevin Plank continues to be a big booster at Maryland and continues to supply uniforms to Maryland’s teams. But the attention devoted to what threads Maryland is wearing is far less of a big deal now — likely because fans are more focused on the team’s struggles on the field.