Maryland football and happy endings aren’t exactly going together well this season.
Really, aside from Nolan Carroll getting to make a trip to Florida State this past weekend and perhaps a handful of five-year players finally earning a chance at regular playing time (guys like Deege Galt, Tommy Galt and Jared Harrell, among others), there aren’t that many warm and fuzzy thoughts around College Park. The Terrapins, after all, a 2-9 team.
But one subplot worth keeping an eye on this week is whether Chris Turner can get one last outing despite a sprained left knee ligament that cost him the last 2 1/2 games.
“He has a chance,” coach Ralph Friedgen said. “I don’t think he’ll be able to practice tomorrow, but they think he may be able to practice Tuesday.”
A Turner return means three things:
1. There’s actually a decision to make at quarterback. After going 23 possessions without a touchdown, Jamarr Robinson engineered three in five drives – and had nine- and 10-play drives on the other two possessions. Robinson played well, so much so that Friedgen said today the sophomore exceeded his expectations. Does Robinson or a not-completely-healthy Turner give Maryland its best chance to collect a third victory? It’s a great question.
2. Turner receives a fitting sendoff. Turner could hit the 30-start plateau, which is more than any other starter of the Friedgen era. He’s going to finish his career No. 2 on the school passing list, which seemed highly improbable when his sophomore season began. He absorbed plenty of shots early this year, and watched as his final season didn’t live up to the occasional highs of the last three. If closure matters, a return helps that. If simply just playing one more time matters (and it presumably does), it helps that, too.
Like it or not, a quarterback is the most public face on a roster, and the sorts who still can’t fully comprehend how important an offensive line is to a team will associate Turner with a 2-10 or 3-9 season more than any other player. One last game, though, at least provides the chance to create a final chapter more appealing than hobbling out of Carter-Finley Stadium on a day Maryland’s bowl hopes officially died.
3. Danny O’Brien will save his redshirt. The only reason to believe there wouldn’t be a livid fan mob swarming around Byrd Stadium on Saturday if O’Brien played can be summarized thusly: How many fans constitutes a swarm?
If your definition is high, the circumstances (Thanksgiving weekend, 2-9 team, students on break, not exactly a big-name opponent, potential for cold weather) won’t enhance the chances of a swarm gathering.
If Turner’s back, there are two guys who would play before O’Brien. And realistically, it’s difficult to fathom trading a dozen games of Future O’Brien for 30 minutes of Present O’Brien. If Virginia could get Vic Hall ready to play quarterback in a week last year with bowl eligibility on the line, the Terps could theoretically have Torrey Smith or Tony Logan or Anthony Green ready to go in a pinch next week just to finish out a game.