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Maryland @ Bowling Green: A Q&A with Testudo Times

A Maryland reporter gives the skinny on the Terrapins

Mitch Stringer, USA Today

The Bowling Green Falcons host the Maryland Terrapins on Saturday. The Falcons are coming off a 58-24 beat down by the Oregon Ducks in last week’s season opener in Eugene. Meanwhile, the Terrapins are riding high after last week’s opening win against the Texas Longhorns. The Terrapins were a double-digit underdog going into that game.

Will Maryland suffer a letdown, and can the Falcons pull the upset? The fact that the Terrapins remember the last time they faced the Falcons won’t help. The Falcons went into Maryland and beat the Terrapins 48-27 back in 2015. I am sure that has been mentioned a time or two to the Terrapins players this week.

We asked a few questions of reporter Thomas Kendziora (@TKendziora37) of Maryland’s SBNation site, Testudo Times. Here is what he had to say about the Terrapins leading up to Saturday’s match-up.

HB: With everything that has transpired with the Maryland football program the last few months, a lot of people were expecting a team in turmoil last Saturday. But the Terrapins surprised some people with the win against Texas. How has the players handled the situation and what’s the overall mood in the locker room coming into this week’s game?

TT: There’s been plenty of controversy in the last few months about how the coaches and administrators at Maryland handled Jordan McNair and the aftermath of his death. The players have handled everything as well as possible, though. They made all the decisions regarding how to honor him, including the number semi-retirement and lining up with 10 men on the field on their first play of the season. This team has rallied around each other and interim coach Matt Canada, and while it’s hard to predict the extent to which that continues, it definitely galvanized the team against Texas.

HB: With him being a former player and coach at Bowling Green, we’ve been following the D.J. Durkin story with interest. What can you give us an update on the latest on his situation and do people at Maryland think he’ll remain the head coach for the foreseeable future?

TT: Durkin’s future at Maryland is still up in the air, although most assume he’s coached his last game for the Terps. There are two investigations into the program (one into the allegedly “toxic” culture and another into the staff’s handling of McNair) that should be complete before long. If neither comes out with scathing information about Durkin, which is actually seeming more likely now than it did earlier, it’ll complicate things quite a bit. I’d still say it’s unlikely he returns, but not impossible.

HB: What phase of the game or which Terrapin players surprised you the most last week in the win against Texas?

TT: The easy answer is Jeshaun Jones, a true freshman wide receiver who dominated his first college game. His first career touch was a 28-yard rushing touchdown on a jet sweep. His second was a 65-yard catch and run for another score. His third was a 20-yard touchdown pass. No player has scored all three ways in their first college game in at least 20 seasons (and if anyone ever has, surely it wasn’t on their first three touches). Jones is part of an inexperienced wide receiver group that was surprisingly effective both in the passing game and on jet sweeps in the opener.

HB: If you could point out a couple of players for Bowling Green fans to watch on offense and defense for the Terrapins, who would they be?

TT: Quarterback Kasim Hill, a redshirt freshman who impressed before tearing his ACL early last season, was steady and turnover-free in his first football game in over 11 months. Expect to see him take most of the snaps while redshirt sophomore Tyrrell Pigrome rotates in sparingly (he’s more of a runner than Hill). You’ll also see several different running backs, with senior Ty Johnson likely taking the most carries.

On defense, watch out for Antoine Brooks. The junior is listed as a nickel corner, although he has the skill set of a safety. He recorded 11 total tackles and caught the game-sealing interception last weekend, which helped him earn Big Ten Co-Defensive Player of the Week. He was everywhere for the Terps last season, and his 2018 is off to a dominant start.

HB: Finally, the Falcons came into Maryland and beat the Terrapins 48-27 back in 2015. I don’t think Bowling Green will sneak up on the Terrapins this time. Any chance for a letdown coming off that big opening win and what is your prediction for the game?

TT: I wouldn’t count on it. Several players on this team were on the field for the last match-up, and they certainly haven’t forgotten about it. The current spread is 16 points, and while I wouldn’t be stunned to see Bowling Green hang around for a while, Maryland just has no reason to be complacent about anything right now, and the Terps’ talent is still getting better.