The Washington Times - August 19, 2008, 09:58AM

After a long and busy day, sometimes you need a little sleep to help clarify everything you took in.

But even after that, the one comment I made yesterday to a lot of people about Maryland’s quarterback decision holds true.

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For this season, it isn’t the beginning of the end. It’s the end of the beginning.

The selection of Jordan Steffy as the Terrapins‘ quarterback doesn’t doom the program to a losing season. It really doesn’t. If Steffy had stayed healthy and if his offensive line held up last year, Maryland would have had a legitimate chance to go 7-5 last year. It might not have been a feast for the eyes, but it would have been possible.

Now, neither of those optimal scenarios played out last season. Steffy was concussed and the offensive line didn’t stay healthy, and so Chris Turner got to play for a 6-6 team (and one that very well might have won two more games had he enjoyed a fully healthy o-line).

Steffy is healthy and should have an even better offensive line at pretty much every spot other than right guard. And with a favorable schedule, it’s still smart to bet on Maryland visiting an atypical late December destination like Nashville or Charlotte or Boise.

But this is far from the final word in the quarterback carousel, and Ralph Friedgen said as much for the last week. Josh Portis will play, and the first time he zigzags around a bunch of defensive backs Maryland fans will be frothing at the mouth for more. Steffy will play in an offense that suits his talents, but until he translates his practice performance into games he will be viewed warily by a frustrated fan base.

Turner – assuming he sticks around – will never be too far from mind. And should he come in to relieve a struggling (or, to include a far less pleasant possibility, injured) Steffy and produce a comeback victory, Friedgen will have a decision to re-visit.

Unless there is some form of attrition, this is far from the last thing said on the topic. And as I’ve written and said many times in the last month or so, the prediction here is multiple quarterbacks will start multiple games for this team. That was the call regardless of who earned the opening week nod, and remains so now.

You know the saying “If you don’t like the weather in [insert city here], wait five minutes?” A variation of that is going to hold up among College Park quarterbacks, assuming they all remain on the team, because all of them are going to receive a chance to play at some juncture.

As a result, performance on Saturdays will eventually mean as much or more as performance on the practice field. For now, Friedgen’s credibility is tied to what his players see during the week; soon enough, it will again be connected to what 50,000 people see on the weekend.

So settle down. This isn’t the beginning of the end. It’s just the very rocky end of the beginning.

Patrick Stevens