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Turnover margin tells the story for Duke, Maryland

Maryland is 3-1 because of turnover margin. Duke is 1-3 because of turnover margin.

The Terrapins are tied for 10th nationally in turnover margin this season. Last season, they were tied for 97th and could not hang onto the football. After committing 24 turnovers last season, Maryland has turned over the ball just four times – two fumbles, two interceptions – in four games this season.

Ball security has become an obsession for Coach Ralph Friedgen, who made players carry around bunched-up towels during winter workouts because NCAA rules prohibit them from carrying a football. They carried the towels throughout their workouts, fearful of letting the cloth hit the ground. The commitment continues in practice: The Terrapins start each practice with ball-security drills.

“We do it every day,” Friedgen said. “If I see them getting lax, I’m on the coaches, I’m on [players]. I emphasized it before, but not like I am now. It is a passion with me right now. Hold onto the football, you win games.”

As for Duke, the Blue Devils are tied for 100th in turnover margin this season.

Anyone catch Ralph's radio show last night? How was it?

By Eric Prisbell  | September 30, 2010; 10:15 AM ET
Categories:  Football  
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This is exactly the kind of coaching that Fridge did when he arrived at Maryland. His first camp he emphasized ball security and not beating yourself above everything else. Seems simple, but it helped lead to a BCS berth.

Posted by: Barno1 | September 30, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abuse

Outstanding analysis Mrs Fridge! If only you had dropped him a note back in 2005, to keep up " that kind of coaching" perhaps we could have stayed in the "BCS berth" and avoided all the subsequent unpleasantness....bear in mind before you go asking the AD to grant Fridge a contract extension and salary bump, that UMD currently ranks in the bottom quintile in terms of total offensive plays attempted so while 4 turnovers is certainly better than last year, we have only played 1 top caliber team so far...

Posted by: TerpfanMA | September 30, 2010 12:56 PM | Report abuse

I, along with most Terp fans and Navy fans, would question TerpfanMA's statement about only play 1 quality team so far this season. The Terps played a Navy team that some were predicting would challenge for a top bowl birth, and could perhaps go undefeated with a Heisman Trophy candidate (Dobbs). Navy is perhaps not quite the team experts thought they were going into the season, but I would still consider them a top caliber opponent.

Turnovers almost always define a team's season, and if you look at the less successful seasons in the Fridge era, the years where the Terps have been negative or close to zero in turnover margin are the years where the team struggled. The Cosh defenses were notoriously bad at generating turnovers, and Brown was brought in to try to create a more aggressive, TO-creating style. To date, I still don't see a huge difference, and most of the turnovers that the defense is getting is through normal errors by the opponent and a few highlight plays by defenders (Moten's INT against FIU and FF against Navy on the goalline).

The offense has been doing a very good job holding onto the ball, but a lot of that has to do with the vanilla offense they're running right now, and DOB's decision making. If this team can stay on the positive side of the TO margin, there's no reason they can't get to 6 wins this year.

Posted by: Russtinator | September 30, 2010 1:27 PM | Report abuse

Current Sagarin ratings have Navy at #56 out of approx 119 programs...Top Caliber? Not so much...Does it make UMD feel better pretending that they are? absolulely! Did we get pushed around and come within 18" of losing that game? Definitely

Posted by: TerpfanMA | September 30, 2010 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Good reading for everyone, especially the NCAA Infractions Committee.

Posted by: steven09 | September 30, 2010 2:25 PM | Report abuse

"Current Sagarin ratings have Navy at #56 out of approx 119 programs"

Sagarin ranks all D-I programs, which makes Navy #56 out of 245. Would you consider JMU a "top calibur" opponent, because they're rated #36 by Sagarin? Most would probably consider Notre Dame a "top calibur" team, yet they're even lower than Navy at #64.

If Navy had beaten the Terps, that rating would probably be top 25, and if Navy plays up to their lofty expectations the rest of the way, they should finish the season in the top 30 of the rankings. Please don't cite weekly ratings to bolster your already flimsy arguement. Navy was a quality non-conference opponent that the Terps managed to defeat (a win is a win).

Posted by: Russtinator | September 30, 2010 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Russty...please dont misquote me in an effort to bolster your post....I said "Top Caliber" inserted "Quality"...they are not the same....I would consider Navy to be a Quality program...I would also consider UMD to be a borderline Quality program but we are nowhere near a Top Caliber program....get the difference?

Posted by: TerpfanMA | September 30, 2010 2:47 PM | Report abuse

bear in mind before you go asking the AD to grant Fridge a contract extension and salary bump, that UMD currently ranks in the bottom quintile in terms of total offensive plays attempted

Posted by: TerpfanMA | September 30, 2010 12:56 PM | Report abuse

Oh no! We're in the bottom quintile of total offensive plays! How on earth did we get to 3-1 by failing so miserably at the most important statistic in football! I think we should stop throwing bombs to Torrey Smith, it's really hurting this team in the total offensive plays category.

I cannot even fathom how far the depths of your stupidity go. You take the cake as the single biggest idiot ever to post a comment on this blog (a truly impressive feat).

Let me ask you, when was the last time you actually went to a Maryland football game? Seems to me that all of Gary Williams' and Ralph Friedgen's biggest haters on these blogs live in other parts of the country. There's Carolina1 who lives in NC, there's Poopy McPoop who lives in California, there's Petecard who lives in New York, and now out of nowhere there's you, who I can only assume does not live in the area.

Why is it that those who are furthest away from MD, those that don't go to the games, those that don't have access to all the local coverage of this team (i.e. Terrapin Rising, CSN's daily terps coverage, etc) are the ones most likely to want to fire our legendary head coaches who built our programs from the ashes?

Things that make you go hmmm...

Posted by: Barno1 | September 30, 2010 3:09 PM | Report abuse

Yet you use week 4 Sagarin Rankins to support your statement that Navy is not a top calibur team, of which is say is nonsense. Going into this season, Navy was one of 3-4 non AQ teams that were being talked about for BCS Bowls, and numerous articles were written about Ricky Dobbs' Heisman prospects. Navy has become a solid program since Johnson installed the triple option, and considering just non-BCS schools, Navy would be amongst the cream of the crop. Navy had a better record last year than USC, FSU, LSU, OU, Michigan, and Notre Dame (beating the #23 ranked Irish in South Bend)--Is that "top calibur" enough for you? Also, they almost beat OSU in the Horseshoe last season. Please stop this nonsense that Navy is not a top calibur program!!!

This thought that Fridge doesn't schedule quality competition is a bunch of hogwash. Every AQ team in the country has one FCS team on the schedule and one "cupcake." Fridge has managed to schedule some of the best FCS teams in the country (Villanova--soon to join the Big East, JMU, Deleware), and typically gets another decent "buy" game like FIU and MTSU (in terms of quality of opponent). The other 2 non-conference games are almost always against strong competition (this year being Navy and WVU) against teams like Cal, Rutgers, and NIU, and the schedule over the next few years is looking even stronger with upcoming games against WVU, Texas, Notre Dame, Bowling Green (solid MAC team), Temple (almost beat PSU in Happy Valley), and UConn.

Posted by: Russtinator | September 30, 2010 3:31 PM | Report abuse

"Why is it that those who are furthest away from MD, those that don't go to the games, those that don't have access to all the local coverage of this team (i.e. Terrapin Rising, CSN's daily terps coverage, etc) are the ones most likely to want to fire our legendary head coaches who built our programs from the ashes?"

My guess is that with the name TerpfanMA, the bozo must be from Massachusetts.

Posted by: Russtinator | September 30, 2010 3:42 PM | Report abuse

Navy a top "caliber" opponent? Well, that depends on how you look at it.

On one hand, they certainly were a top caliber opponent for Maryland because they almost beat us.

On the other hand, if you look at Navy compared to the BCS conferences and the best teams in those conferences, I'd have to say that describing Navy as a Top "caliber" opponent is hyperbole. They're good, but they wouldn't last long against the top teams in college football.

Posted by: SirPelleas | September 30, 2010 3:44 PM | Report abuse

Going into this season, Navy was one of 3-4 non AQ teams that were being talked about for BCS Bowls, and.......


You do realize that this was before even a single snap was taken, dont you? Pre-season hype is pretty meaningless...I think even someone at your level would agree....

You spend quite a few words bashing my use of Sagarin rankings to determine Top Caliber teams....Perhaps you could enlighten us with what you use? That way we would all be on the same page

Of course, when the facts dont go your way, its always possible to just call names

Do you plan on going to UMD?

Posted by: TerpfanMA | September 30, 2010 4:00 PM | Report abuse

I'm just trying to enlighten you as to your faulty use of the weekly Sagrin Rankings to support your arguement for what classifies as a "top caliber" opponent.

If you just look at the Sagarins, Notre Dame (#64) is not a top caliber opponent.

Is Nevada (#18) a top caliber opponent?
IS NC State (#23) a top caliber opponent?
Is Air Force (#28) a top caliber opponent?
Is Kentucky (#34) a top caliber opponent?
Is Georgia (#48) a top calibur opponent?
Is Texas A&M (#49) a top calibur opponent?
How about Cincinnati (#70), which was in a BCS bowl last year?
How about Purdue (#96)?
Or how about New Mexico (#132) with the coach everyone wanted to replace Fridge with in 2008?

I kinda understand where you're coming from when you say "top caliber," but by that definition, WVU (only #24) is not even a "top calibur" team, even though you have already said that they are (not to mention they should have lost to Marshall (#97)). WVU has been mediocre in terms of being "top caliber" since Richrod left.

My point is I view the calibur of opponent based on how well they do throughout the year, and where they will probably finish at the end of the year. If Navy performs up to their expectation, they will likely finish in the top 25, and will get a solid bowl, and in my eyes, that makes them a "top caliber" opponent. Of course, it's always possible that Navy ends up losing a bunch of games this year and misses on a bowl bid for the first time in 8 years, which would not have made them a "top caliber" opponent. In your world, Boise State fans are thinking that VaTech was not a "top caliber" opponent after losing to JMU at home.

Just a what if...If the Terps played and beat Alabama week 1, but Alabama ended up losing 5 games the rest way, would Alabama still have been a "top caliber" opponent? So let's see how Navy's season plays out before a pre-season non-AQ BCS contender is found out to not be a "top calibur" opponent.

Posted by: Russtinator | September 30, 2010 4:33 PM | Report abuse

Who is this TerpsfanMA who believes the most important stat in football is number of offensive plays run? Definitely one of the dumbest stats I've seen cited. How bout 3-1? How bout that stat? And Navy IS a top caliber opponent. They've won ten games the past 3 years. BTW, where is Poopy this year? Seems like he'd get along well with this guy.

Posted by: aviscardo | September 30, 2010 5:10 PM | Report abuse

There are plenty of us close to College Park who think that Fatso's gravy train has left the station. I'm not sure what the rest of you fools are thinking. There isn't one compelling argument to make for keeping him around after this year. We're lucky to be 3-1 right now. Navy (whether they're top-caliber or not) destroyed us and should have won that game. We should all be very worried about the potential indignity of losing to Duke.

One last thing: Gary Williams is a saint. Basketball can't come soon enough.

Posted by: caphillterp | September 30, 2010 5:23 PM | Report abuse

I was making the point related to turnover margin which looks at the raw number of gives/takes and is then compared to other schools for UMDs top 10 ranking....What I believe is entirely relevant is that we have run significantly less off plays than our peers and had significantly more defensive plays....I am not making the argument that this stat is anything more than a contributing factor in the overall outcome since, relative to our peers, we have had less opportunities to lose the ball and more to takeaway the ball....the premise of the article is that UMDs ranking increase is due to carrying towels and I am pointing out that there is more to it than that.....nuff said....some of you understood that, others did not


Russ, I appreciate that your last post at least did not have a bunch of name calling in it.....that hurts my feelings

Posted by: TerpfanMA | September 30, 2010 6:18 PM | Report abuse

The naysayers will find any way they can to discount a good stat. Top ten in TO margin, I will take that no matter what.

And wow, fat jokes about creative. Real winners out there.

Posted by: garrett4 | October 1, 2010 8:56 AM | Report abuse

TerpsMA's point about number of plays is a good one in demonstrating the skewed nature of the Terps' being ranked 10th in turnover margin. However, this offense does not seem like one that's going to be turnover prone, especially with DOB at the helm, so the stat may be reflective of the team's ability to generate takeaways in relation to turning the ball over. This defense could do a better job at generating turnovers, and it's going to be an important stat moving forward as they enter their ACC schedule.

Posted by: Russtinator | October 1, 2010 11:07 AM | Report abuse

Interesting that TerpfanMA dodged this question: when was the last time you actually went to a Terps football game?

Posted by: Barno1 | October 1, 2010 1:19 PM | Report abuse

So now we can debate whether or not an interception was a result of good defense or just an accident? Really?

Should our record be 3-1* (Navy victory was only by 18" and some washington post blog readers consider only WVU a top caliber team) ?

Posted by: garrett4 | October 1, 2010 3:01 PM | Report abuse

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