The Washington Times - November 21, 2008, 11:57AM

Someone, long enough ago I can’t blend a name or a face or a place to ascertain any specifics, once told me the worst thing you can say is “I don’t know.”

Whoever that person is, well, they’re an idiot.


There’s nothing wrong with not knowing an answer to a question – or, in many cases, offering up an apathetic shrug.

I don’t listen to much sports talk radio as a rule, mainly because I’m stunned at just how so many involved in the enterprise (from the hosts to callers) not only possess opinions on things, but seemingly own concrete, immovable judgments on all manner of topics. Sure, bickering and bantering about all sorts of stuff can be fun, but I’ve always found it much more enjoyable to be correct.

And if simply being right isn’t an option, then at least it’s worth it to try not to be wrong and to avoid being surprised when events unfold.

I bring up this bit of philosophy since WNST’s Drew Forrester asked a fascinating question the other morning: Who is the better quarterback in recent Maryland lore, Chris Turner or Sam Hollenbach?

My immediate, honest reaction: I don’t know.

Well, Hollenbach probably owns the stronger arm. Turner, should he stay healthy, will have an extra half-season or so to play and will probably wind up with gaudier numbers when it comes to counting stats (completions, yards, TDs).

But how about the numbers as of right now? Maybe they’re not entirely comparable, but it’s getting close enough that it might be worth a little something. In this chart, by the way, “record” includes all games either of these guys played more than half of in their career (thus giving Turner the Rutgers game last year).

G-GS 28-24 21-17
417 305
Attempts 679 501
Comp. Pct.
61.4 60.9
Yards 5139 3767
Yards/Att 7.57 7.52
TD 28 16
INT 26 13
Att/TD 24.25 31.32
Att/INT 26.12 38.54
Efficiency 130.9 129.4
Record 15-9 (.625)
10-8 (.556) 
vs. Ranked 2-7 (.222)
6-0 (1.000)

After that rundown … I still don’t know, especially since it’s probably fair to presume Turner will improve some over the rest of his career. That could eliminate the small gaps in yards/attempt, completion percentage and passer efficiency.

Yet none of this takes into account things like surrounding talent, run/pass ratio, tweaked systems with a new coordinator, being forced to learn a new system in the middle of a career, etc.

I’ve written before that Hollenbach was (at least during his career) one of the program’s most underappreciated players in recent years, starting from the head coach and going all the way down to fans. To some extent, Turner is as well, though that record against ranked teams acts as something of a buffer to stifle too much criticism.

A QB often gets too much credit or blame for a team’s record and not nearly enough for some of their more subtle skills. Turner was ineffective in the lousy weather in the middle of last week’s game, but that was easily forgotten when he engineered the go-ahead drive in the fourth quarter.

At the same time, one of Turner’s greatest strengths this season is throwing passes where only his receivers can catch them. When he hasn’t been sharp, he’s still avoided crippling interceptions. And lost in Ronnie Tyler’s superlative catch on third-and-10 last week was the fact it was thrown where no one in a white shirt could snare it. That’s an impressive skill for a quarterback.

So back to the original question – who is the better QB? I still don’t know. But Turner still has another season and change to make it a whole lot easier to arrive at a correct answer.

Patrick Stevens