Getting To Know The Maryland Terrapins

(Editor's Note: Maryland reporter George Gerbo of the Washington Times appears this week on the IlliniGuys Sports Spectacular syndicated radio show)

October 13, 2023

(Cover photo courtesy Maryland Athletics)

Larry Smith:  George, welcome to the show. Let's with Mike Locksley and what he has done with this 5-1 Terrapins team.

George Gerbo:  Yeah, Locks has done an incredible job. He's molded the program and his image over the five years he's been there. The first time they've started undefeated since that 2001 team (in) Ralph Friedgen's first year. They went to the Orange Bowl, they won the ACC - the last conference title. The team has taken his image. He's preached a lot about, you know, culture and reforming this program. And it's taken a while but they are a much more disciplined team this year. They're much better on defense, which to me is the reason that they have been able to build on the successes.  They won six wins two years ago, seven wins and a bowl game and back to back bowl wins in the last two seasons. And now you'd like to see them, if you're a Maryland fan, reach for higher than that and be in play for one of these New Year's type of games.

Mike Cagley: So in today's world of instant gratification, and, you know, Deion (Sanders) coming to town and going from one win to a bowl game, how have the Maryland fans had the patience to go through maybe what we would call a traditional rebuild?

GG: Yeah, God bless them these days, just doing it the right way. And even in the NFL space, where in my opinion, as I'm watching what's happening around college football, I would say they're lagging behind a little bit in that but the university and the program and the athletic department will preach to you that they're going through NIL which is connecting, which is how it is intended to be connecting these players with opportunities in and around the DMV whether it's with, you know, the Fortune 500 companies that call DC home or Capitol Hill. That's what they tried to do with their NIL space not just solely 'hey, here's money and would you like to come play for us' so he's had to do it that way. It's been a little bit of a slog. In that point. I think some fans wanted to see it get there a little bit quicker. I like to tell people that Locksley took this program over in the wake of what happened to Jordan McNair and if folks don't know DJ Durkin was the coach at the time. McNair collapsed due to essentially heatstroke and died there on the field and it caused a whole reformation that Durkin was pushed out, while eventually led to the president of the university Wallace Loh losing his job as well. And so you started from kind of a rock bottom place there. Ralph Friedgen left, Randy Edsel comes in.  (Then) DJ Durkin (with a) bad culture in terms of the way he treated the players and so Locks kind of had to start from zero. At least the good news for him is that him being local, he's always talked about it being his dream job. He's been all over the country. Of course, Nick Saban's offensive coordinator (at) Alabama for some time, he speaks very fondly of his time in Champaign as the offensive coordinator in those years under Ron Zook. So it really is a dream come true for him.

LS: Yeah, didn't use to sell programs at games there as a kid?

GG: Yeah, hop over a fence and sneak in the games in that Maryland stadium to back in the day. Yeah, he's very deeply connected. It's a third stint at Maryland. He was on this Friedgen's staff as a running backs coach and had an interim period after Randy Edsel left where he actually led Maryland is the interim coach after departure. So it's he called it a dream job. He's not going anywhere else.  So he's in it and building it for the long haul.

MC: Illinois has struggled, primarily on offense.  Does Maryland comes into this with some concern over what Illinois could do to derail them at home?

GG: Isaiah (Williams), of course, is the leading receiver in the Big 10 in terms of receptions, if I've got that right and 500 some yards. I mean, that's 200, more than anybody on Maryland has at this point. Looking at the roster here and Reggie Love out, (Josh) McCray out and just those injuries, maybe you've got two freshmen guys in Kaden (Feagin) and Aiden (Laughery), which is a nice way to lump them together.  'The Kaden and Aiden Show where they can do something because maybe it's a look Maryland hasn't seen. Just watching the highlights, and I wrote it down because I couldn't believe it. Because I'm like, that's not the running back. 6'3" and 250 at the running back position?  Like, dude scares me! So it looks like AJ Dillon of the Green Bay Packers with those with the quads, so respect to him, because that's going to be more of a physical back that they haven't yet faced it in this conference. So yeah, I think I think up front with the running game that those two freshmen can get potentially surprise Maryland a little bit in the front end there.

LS:  Tell us about Taulia Tagovailoa. Here's a player that, because Maryland's not in the Top 25, I'm not sure that he gets the recognition that he deserves. He had plays in the second half last week in Columbus he'd like to have back. But he's a quarterback that is really not only one of the best in the Big 10, but also I would even go as far as to say one of the more exciting players to watch in college football.

GG: Yes, an electrifying style (and) criminally underrated in terms of a national exposure. It's him being a lot more quiet in the pocket, less with happy feet, less getting, you know, frantic and making bad decisions. You saw a little bit of that last week with the two interceptions but he's been more stable and more mature in the pocket.  Dan Enos was the offensive coordinator last year said something that always stuck with me; he said 'when his eyes are good and his feet are good, he's good'. And both of those things have been true this year. He's less prone to just kind of spraying the ball all over the field.

MC: How bad will it be for Illinois if they can't put pressure on him?

GG: Yeah, that's probably the number one thing that you saw Maryland have the success really against Ohio State and that's because that pocket held up and then later in the game it started to weaken and they had to make a switch.  I'd like to see him pull down the ball and run a little bit more. There's some designed runs, but not as many. He wants to extend the play with his arm.

 

Podcasts

Instant Take on Kasparas Jakucionis Commit #364

Listen

May 24 Weekend (S3,Ep41)

Listen

Illini Legend Stephen Bardo - #363

Listen

Tyler Underwood 1-on-1 #362

Listen

May 17 Weekend (S3,Ep40)

Listen

Illini Legend David Williams & His Charity Golf Outing on June 8 #361

Listen

Huge Portal Kombat Win for Bret Bielema #360

Listen

May 10 Weekend (S3,Ep39)

Listen

Illini Baseball is Heating Up #359

Listen

Illini Add Euro Big #358

Listen

Ked's Recruiting Roundup - Interview with Ben Humrichous

Listen

May 3 Weekend (S3,Ep38)

Listen

Portal Kombat - Big Ben Commits & Portals Are Wild #357

Listen

NFL Draft Recap & Portal Kombat (Men & Women) #356

Listen

April 26 Weekend (S3,37)

Listen