Coach's QB call 'most difficult'

Steffy says he and roommate Turner have discussed decision, moved on

Football

August 20, 2008|By Don Markus | Don Markus,Sun reporter

COLLEGE PARK - One day after naming senior Jordan Steffy the team's starting quarterback, Maryland football coach Ralph Friedgen said the decision was "probably the most difficult for me, just because I didn't think it was going to be good no matter how it ended up."

Picking Steffy over junior Chris Turner, along with junior Josh Portis, was probably the most controversial decision Friedgen has made during his eight seasons as coach. Fans filled various message boards expressing their surprise, and, in many cases, their disappointment with the choice.

In an uncharacteristic move yesterday, Friedgen opened his post-practice news conference saying he would not discuss the decision. And, for the second straight day, Turner declined interview requests.

The move to name Steffy, a former starter whose career at Maryland has been marred by inconsistent play and two serious concussions, came less than two weeks before the Terps open the season at Byrd Stadium against Delaware. It will be Steffy's first start since suffering a concussion in the fifth game last season against Rutgers.

That injury opened the door for Turner, who helped beat the Scarlet Knights and then later in the season outplayed Boston College star Matt Ryan in an upset of the then-No. 2 Eagles. But Turner had his share of inconsistency, and his erratic play at practice in the spring and summer led Friedgen to choose Steffy.

"I think a lot of those kids, they're all great kids," Friedgen said last night. "I believe in them tremendously as people. I want them to be successes in life, not ... just on the football field. To me, this whole thing is a preparation for that. You've got to be able to deal with ups and downs.

"If you have an opportunity to take advantage of it, if this isn't your opportunity, you have to keep working until the next one comes, and then you've got to be ready. I think these are life lessons that we learn. It's times when I talk to these kids as a father when I say, 'Things are going to get worse than this, and you're going to have to deal with it.' "

Steffy said: "All three of us as a group have sort of moved forward. Like [new offensive coordinator James] Franklin said in the meeting, this is the decision, and we're going to go with it and everyone has bought into it. The most important thing is that every day we get better and really progress as a team."

Asked whether he has spoken with Turner since the decision, Steffy said: "He's my roommate. To be honest with you, we've talked about it, but, at the end of the day, we both understand how this whole thing works. The unique thing about this team is that everyone has bought into this whole team thing."

Friedgen said all three quarterbacks played well at practice yesterday.

Franklin declined to discuss speculation that Turner might transfer.

"What I can tell you is that I'm really excited about the University of Maryland and the program and the direction we're headed. Our offense, that's what I'm focused on," Franklin said.

He said the Terps could have the most depth at quarterback in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

"I've been saying since I got here that we have three quarterbacks that can win in the ACC. Our job now is to find the guy who can win the ACC championship," said Franklin, a former assistant at Maryland who returned from Kansas State after last season. "We are further along after the seven months ... here than after two years at the last school I was at."

Note: Friedgen said tomorrow's scheduled scrimmage is "up in the air" because of the team's injuries.

don.markus@baltsun.com

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