Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
As Maryland quarterback Chris Turner goes, so go the Terps. If he's hot against Top 25 teams, so is Maryland. If he's down against an unheralded opponent, so is Maryland. Turner is 5-1 against ranked teams. His consistency, along with the development of his offensive line, will play a huge role in how Maryland's season unfolds this fall. Turner, a senior, is entering his third season as the starter. He ranks fourth on Maryland's career completion percentage list (59.7), seventh in career passing yards (4,474), and seventh in total offense (4,295).
I recently got a chance to sit down with Turner. Here are the highlights of our interview:
Last year there were so many seniors, high expectations, but they didn't quite meet them. What do you think about this group that's in front of you now?
Chris Turner: I think that anytime you're faced with some negativity or doubt, it's motivation to step up your game. We have a young offensive line, but they're very talented and will be very good down the road, but I don't have that kind of time. I need them to develop quickly.
You guys had so many things in place last year for a winning season -- 30 seniors, Darrius Heyward-Bey, a veteran O-line, and yet came up short. Where does your confidence come from this year now that so many of those guys are gone?
CT: Personally for me, the confidence I have is I understand what kind of talent we do have. We might not have a lot of seniors, we might have lost a lot of leadership, but the young players we do have are a pretty good group. We're three-deep at every position. Our O-linemen, they are young and have a lot to learn, but they're athletic, they can move around they're going to get off the ball. That's the way I look at it. I don't like to look at what we don't have, I look at what we do have.
Which one of these receivers is going to be your go-to guy? You had like nine different players catch the ball for you.
CT: This summer some of the guys who have really stood out are Torrey Smith, he's a natural leader going into this year, and Adrian Cannon has had an unbelievable summer and spring, really pushed Torrey for his job. LaQuan Williams is back, people forget about him, but he's an exceptional player. Those are the three that really stand out. They're all going to have a role. You're going to see nine receivers play this year.
I was talking to [strength coach] Dwight [Galt] and he was telling me that there's more athleticism, and guys are really looking good in the weight room.
CT: It's really pretty impressive. For receivers, Kevin Dorsey and Torrey stand out. Kevin Dorsey is about 18 years old and he's power cleaning like 340. It's really cool to see. These guys are going to have great careers, but I need them to step up for me now. Seeing them work like this is reassuring and it gives me a lot of confidence.
What are your goals for yourself this year?
CT: I'd like to just live up to the whole senior quarterback reputation I've sort of acquired. We're a young team, and I'm that consistency they'll look to. People keep asking me how it feels not having any competition and all that, but it's still competition. I'm still trying to get better every day. Hopefully if I play the way I'm capable of, it will give guys around me confidence and really be a positive factor.
How much have you thought about not only playing at Cal, but at that time? (It translates to a 10 p.m. East Coast kickoff).
CT: A lot, I've thought about it a lot. It's going to be quite a challenge obviously. Cal is loaded, they're a very good team. I'm as aware of that as anyone. It's going to be a good test for us. Win or lose, it's going to be a good experience. We'll have 11 or 12 games after that. We'd like to come out with a victory, obviously. We're going to prepare for that game, and we're going in there to win. We're not going in there to put up a fight and see what happens, we're going to win.
Because you've seen it, how much differently do you think ACC offenses will view Maryland's defense? Do you think you guys might surprise some people?
CT: Yeah, yeah. It's going to look funny. It's going to look a lot different. It's not going to be the old Maryland at all.
Is that a good thing?
CT: Yeah, very good thing.
How tough has it been to go against?
CT: It was frustrating at first. There were so many different looks they were throwing at us. Coach [Don] Brown, he's so creative. It seemed like every practice was a new defense. I feel like if it's frustrating for me, and I'm watching film on it every day, it will cause some problems for other offenses.