Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Maryland Media Day: Quarterback Situation (ATH Report)

Maryland Media Day was yesterday, as official practice for the 2008 Maryland football season began. Ralph Friedgen had his first press conference and players lined up for their first official interviews of the season.

The big question is with the quarterback situation. Though general thought is that it is Chris Turner's job, Friedgen got upset with a reporter when a question of his suggested that Turner was the clear starter. Friedgen says that between Turner, Steffy, and Josh Portis, it is "like 1A, 1B, and 1C." Working for WMUC, I talked to all three quarterbacks.

Chris Turner (1V Junior: Simi Valley, CA)
Turner immediately earned fans after replacing an injured-Steffy in the MD-#10 Rutgers game and leading the Terps to a huge upset 34-24 victory with second half drives, getting the starting role for the rest of the season. Turner is probably the safest quarterback, his decisions won't lose games, but at the same time isn't a big offensive playmaker. Of the big three quarterbacks, Turner was the one that said outright he should be the starting quarterback at media day. Friedgen says that Turner needs to be more consistent on the field.

Jordan Steffy (3V Senior: Leola, PA)
A big recruit out of high school, Steffy has suffered a number of injuries at Maryland, but has stayed in College Park, earning Friedgen's admiration. Steffy rarely throws any passes past 15 yards, and some of his mistakes can cost the Terps games. However, rumor is that James Franklin's (offensive coordinator) system works better under Steffy. Friedgen says that Steffy needs to relax, that "he wants it so bad it hurts him." Steffy was very calm during media day and says he's been a "friendly competition."

Note: Players that are important and expected to see a lot of media attention didn't get placed next to their locker, instead in the center of the locker room where there was a lot more space. Darrius Heyward-Bey was there as one of them. Maryland had both Turner and Steffy in that area, a clear sign that the starting quarterback isn't clear and the competition will continue.

Josh Portis (Florida transfer, junior: Woodland Hills, CA)
Portis will be able to step onto the gridiron for the first time in three years this season after transfer and academic rules sat him out his first two seasons in College Park. Portis is the most physically talented of the three, but has difficulty with the playbook. He emphasized that he was just happy to be able to play football again in interviews. It is possible that if he doesn't start at QB, he still could be used as a running back due to his blazing speed. Friedgen says Portis can do some things that the other two can't.

Maryland is used to quarterback controversy. With the exception of Sam Hollenbach in 2006, the Terps haven't had a hands-down starting QB in the last few years. But, there is reason for optimism. Darrius Heyward-Bey, the Terps star wide receiver, has said this competition has
brought out the best in these three. Based on media day, it is clear that a starter hasn't been chosen, and it is possible one won't get picked even after their first game against Delaware. But all three bring something to the table, and it will be interesting to see how this pans out for Maryland.

Maryland faces Delaware to open its season August 30th at 3:45 PM at Chevy Chase Bank Field at Byrd Stadium.

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