Posts Tagged ‘Chris Turner


How Is the Football Team Spending its Bye Week?

Ever wondered what football players and coaches do during the bye week? Specifically wondering about the Maryland football team, who after consecutive losses to UVA and Duke now finds itself at 2-6 and nearly becoming the universal pick for worst team in the ACC?

Well, wonder no more. Through our inside sources, Shell Games has provided this exclusive update on coach and player bye week activities. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

— Chris Turner: Shivering in a Simi Valley irrigation ditch

— James Franklin: Shivering in the film room

— Don Brown: Shivering in the bar room

— Ralph Friedgen: Shivering beneath an Old Country Buffet steam table

— Demetrius Hartsfield: Shivering in a training room hot tub

— Entire offensive line: Shivering through inspirational visit to spackle factory

— Anthony Wiseman and Cameron Chism: Shivering. Just shivering. So dark. So very, very dark.

— Da’rel Scott and Davin Meggett: Carrying footballs along the beach. Sipping cold drinks out of football-
     shaped glasses. Clutching stuffed footballs in sleep. Shivering.

— Nick Ferrara: Long Island. Banging.

— Travis Baltz: Saving shivering children from trees

— Torrey Smith: A whirlwind tour of the country, stopping in Oakland, Detroit, Kansas City, St. Louis…
     you know, just for shits and giggles.


Know your Benchwarmers: Ersin Levent

(With basketball season just around the corner, it’s time to get acquainted with your 2009-2010 Maryland Terrapin ballers. I’m starting with the reserves so that you, the reader, can make an informed decision about who you want to ironically cheer for during garbage time. It is my gift to you.)


Ersin Levent is a sophomore forward on the team. He’s 6’7″, 185 and hails from right here in Rockville, Md., where he played his high school ball for the Landon School, an expensive private school for wealthy people. What? It is. While there, he made honorable mention in The Gazette’s all-county team on his way to helping Landon to its first Interstate Athletic Conference Championship in four decades. He also played golf (rather successfully) and ran track for Landon.

This is all well and good, but it doesn’t really tell you about the man, does it? What about the man? Well, Ersin played on the Maryland club team as a freshman, then worked his ass off and made the big team as a walk-on. Do I detect a hint of Rudy in the air? Like a really, really rich golf-playing Rudy? My eyes are welling up. Plus, in the interview, he says that on a scale of 1 to 10 his hatred for Duke is a 10. Oh, Ersin. You’ve cinched my heart.


Also, if those notoriously authentic discussion board posts are any indication, Ersin enjoys studying business, strategizing about how to conserve dining hall points, sharing the mundane details of his life, going to Thanksgiving at his uncle’s house, being really REALLY active on Terps message boards, and pleasuring women.

He also resembles Chris Turner, does he not? I think it’s the lopsided smirk-grin.

As far as his game, he seems to follow the classic benchwarming white guy mold — he shoots and then he scraps, scraps and then shoots. He’s a hustle guy. An effort guy. I’m imagining a lot of footage of Ersin leading the cheers in his warmup suit. Every team needs a guy like that.

Ersin is the one on the left.

Ersin is the one on the left.

Final recommendation: I predict some name chants for Ersin; that is, if the students can figure out how to pronounce his name. ER-sin LE-vent, clap, clap, clap-clap-clap.

(Photo credits:,, Baltimore Sun)


Danny O’Brien: Under a Blood Red Shirt


Aye, top o’ the mornin to ye. Is there anythin more pleasin to these old Irish eyes than to see a fair young Irish lad take to those emerald fields as the startin quarterback?  Nae.

And that’s why I was so overjoyed to hear that redshirt freshman Danny O’Brien, the young lad, might be relinquishin his red shirt to take the helm for the Terps.  But then, I was equally dismayed to see Ralph Friedgen a back-peddlin on the offer, even though he still says he’s thinkin about the future.  Ralph’s gonna talk with Chris Turner now, and methinks he’ll be blamin the old media for his gaffery.

To help Ralph in his deliberations, I wrote a wee ballad to tell the tale o’ Danny O’Brien.  Here’s hopin you be enjoyin it.  Did I mention I’m also part pirate?   Aye, tis true.  One-quarter pirate me matey.  It’s a shame Bart Lafitte ended up goin to LSU.

(Intro…it be a single Irish fiddle, a-playin- ever so softly)


Danny Boy, his countenance fair,
His chin goatee so wispy,
he’d lay the defense on its ear
and torch their backs so crispy.

But nae he’ll get the chance I fear
to bail out the season.
Chris Turner is the man this year
for nary a good reason.

(enter the liltin o’ the Irish flute)

O’Brien has a shirt of red.
His play would be to waste it
But as a fan I want him to
play so bad I can taste it.

It’s not that he would be the man
who’d save us from the grave.
In fact I think he’d be well served
to first learn how to shave.

But from a selfish point of view
(as most points of view are),
It’d be more fun with Danny Boy
o’er Chris or — ugh — Jamarr

Here ends me tale of want and woe
with just a simple plea:
If Danny Boy should be the man
the cornerstone of future plans
then keep him on your knee;
But if you’re givin up forthwith
or markin time til Tyler Smith
then why not give the boy his chance
and see if he’ll survive the dance?



maryland football goes from bad to ugly

U-G-L-Y you ain’t got no alibi, YOU UGLY (what what) YOU UGLY! I loved me some Wildcats back in the day.  I even used to think Goldie Hawn was hot.  80’s hot.

On a wet day at Byrd Stadium yesterday, the Terrapins fell to a UVA team that managed only 201 yards of total offense.  While the defense held its own, Maryland’s offense kept coughing up the ball and handed the Wahoos a win.  Four turnovers did the Terps in, including a third quarter Chris Turner Pick-6 that gave the Cavaliers the lead for good.  Maryland’s -1.8 per game turnover margin puts them at 117 out of 120 DI-A teams.

This game was not indicative of the Terps season long struggles with breakdowns in protection.  While Chris Turner seemed to have more time to throw the ball this Saturday, he never got into a rhythm and coughed it up with the game on the line.  The running game was plagued by fumbles.  Offensively, the Terps moved the ball reasonably well, but they failed to get the ball in the end zone.

The defense seemed to turn things around yesterday.  The Terps totaled 5 sacks against UVA and the D was getting constant penetration.  Alex Wucjiak was everywhere, adding 14 tackles to his season total of 77.  Wucjiak is now ranked 4th in DI-A in total tackles.  Demetrius Hartsfield gutted it out with a broken hand to get seven tackles, and Adrian Moten ended up with two sacks.  That was about it for Terps highlights.

Turnovers turnovers turnovers.  Why all the turnovers?  UVA has a good defense ranking 19th overall in total yards, but that’s no excuse for fumbles and interceptions.  I think Maryland’s offense has been too predictable all year.  Check that, they’ve been too predictable since 2006.  They’ve fallen in love with the quick outs and the runs off tackle.  The offensive rhythm is rarely staggered, allowing the defense to time their blitz better and zero in on the football.  I’ve said it before, but I’d still like to see Maryland use more no huddle, especially in the second half.  Chris Turner seems more in control when he’s thinking less, and mixing in the no huddle would keep the defense on its toes.

Otherwise, we all know it’s going to be a long season so let’s just hope for some incremental improvements.  U-G-L-Y the Terps ain’t got no alibi, they ugly.


A Maryland-Virginia football preview from celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain

Bourdain-Anthony-3College Park, Maryland.   The crown jewel of PG County may not be much to look at, but if you take the time to immerse yourself in its culture, you find it has a special life rhythm, a unique pre-revitalizational splendor all its own. 

So when my producers told me a visit to College Park was imminent, my response was simple, and immediate:  where do I sign.  When College Park comes calling, my friends, you have no choice but to accept the charges.

The deal was only sweetened for me when I was informed, as we all clambored into that late-model Mercedes SUV, that the weekend in question was, in fact, homecoming weekend

Homecoming weekend. It’s a time-honored tradition in this part of the world.  Friends and family come from far and wide to pay visits to a favorite son, niece, or buddy who, with any luck, is working toward his or her diploma, that ticket to the real world that comes rushing at you like a Pamplona silverback stoned on Vivarin and Fundador.  Revelers of all stripes eat and drink as if the world might end, and above all, they root.  Root root.  For the home team. Throw Midnight Madness in there, and you have the makings of a weekend for the record books, especially as they pertain to the local jail population.

Being from New York City, I admit to some uncertainty over the homecoming phenomenon.  Fortunately for me, College Park offers the perfect initiation.  The street food — hamburgers and hot dogs grilled in the open air, Thermonuclear hot wings, doughy Ratsie’s pizza — provides a veritable culinary rainbow for a humble, road-weary New York City traveler like myself.  After a bite to eat and a drink or five, we head to Lot 4.  And that’s where I see it for the first time.  A father and son, both members of the same fraternity, wearing matching Under Armour shirts just a touch too small, weaving arm-in-arm through the crowd, vomiting on shoes, calling everyone gay.  That’s when I finally understood.  Though I hadn’t known it when I’d first set out, this was what I had come to see.

Oh, and I have also come for a football game.  A football game between two teams bad enough that an ersatz rivalry was in order for the locals, and their football heroes, to give a crap. Maryland linebacker Alex Wujciak derided Virginia students as essentially a group of preppy snobs. Virginia coach Al Groh said that had he known about standout Terp receiver and Virginia native Torrey Smith, Smith would be playing for the Cavs right now.  I suppose there is, after all, some legitimacy to this rivalry. As Ralph Friedgen points out, these campuses are relatively close, and a lot of the players know one another.  Nevertheless, talk of this being some sort of blood feud rings as hollow to me as my road-weary footsteps on the lonely midnight pavement of New York City, where I grew up.

Even as the schools are close, so too are their teams. Virginia has rebounded from a winless start (which included, you’ll recall, a loss to William and Mary) to marshal a 2-3 record, nearly equalling Maryland’s illustrious 2-4.   Star Cavs running back Mikell Simpson is doubtful for the game, which could put the pressure on big fullback and alleged felon Rashawn Jackson.  Maryland, again, is in a similar boat. With their ground game gaining only 62 yards last week without Da’rel Scott, QB Chris Turner now may wish to seek out Torrey Smith, who is no doubt looking to show UVA what they missed.  The aerial attack may be the Terps’ best chance, but it will face a UVA defense ranked third in the ACC against the pass and led by reining ACC Defensive Back of the Week Ras-I Dowling.  You may remember that he picked off a pass in last year’s 31-0 Virginia romp over the Terps.

And there’s my segue. I’m from New York City, so I don’t know much about the state of Maryland. But in doing this show, I now know the state of Maryland football.  They want revenge for last year’s butt-kicking, but frankly speaking, the signs are not encouraging. The predicted bad weather could turn this into trench warfare — not a strong suit for the Terps. We’ll see if Davin Meggett and the linemen are up to the task. My belief is they are not. Field goals will soar through the rain-soaked air like the mortar shells thumped over the treetops of Bastogne. And in the end, the Cavaliers will prevail. And the revelry in College Park will take a turn for the worse. But you know something? That’s my kind of party.

Prediction: Virginia 19, Maryland 9


maryland football survives heart attack, beats clemson 24-21

University of Maryland Parking Lot 11B was a beautiful place to be Saturday morning at 11AM.  The crisp fall morning had given way to an Indian summer day.  The smell of smoke from the jalapeno brats that were smoking on our grill filled my nostrils.  My chest was wet from the beer I had just shotgunned, providing a cooling reprieve from the heat that was rising from the pavement.

I looked around and listened.  Despite the seemingly idyllic conditions for an early Fall football game, I didn’t like what I was seeing and hearing.  Bodies cloaked in Clemson orange seemed to surround our tailgate.  Southern accents and songs about how sexy pick-up trucks are filled my ears.  My senses were stung, and my mind was clouded with dark thoughts.

Where are the Maryland faithful?  How could people stay home on a day like this?  Why have so many given up on the Terps so early in the season?

Confused, disoriented, bewildered, I continued to drink cans of Bud to try and numb these bad thoughts.  Maryland was a 13-point homedog coming into this Saturday’s game against Clemson, but I couldn’t figure out why.  Clemson is not particularly good.  Neither is Maryland, but the Terps were at home, darn it!  The whole scene seemed a little insulting.

My friends and I hiked up to our bench in the fifth-to-last row in Byrd Stadium.  By the time we took our seats, Clemson had kicked a field goal had taken a 3-0 lead.  Within minutes the Tigers added a touchdown and were up 10-0.  Maryland struggled to get through the first quarter, repeatedly going three and out.  This was not a good start.

The offense seemed to get it going in the beginning of the second quarter.  Nick Ferrara’s 43 yd FG early in the quarter kept the game from getting out of hand.  The Tigers countered with a field goal minutes later to make it 13-3.

Then, as he’s done so many times over the last few years, Chris Turner emerged from his fog and turned it on.  Turner led the Terps on a 9-play, 76 yd drive culminating in a 29 yd Torrey Smith TD in the mid-second quarter to make it 13-10.  That got the team and the crowd going.  Turner then led a 9-play, 81 yd TD drive by repeatedly getting out of the pocket and running for first downs.  It seemed that Turner was single-handedly willing his team to victory at that point.  Jamari McCullough had a huge interception at the goal line to keep Clemson from scoring again at the end of the half.  The Terps took a 17-13 lead into halftime in what had seemed like an improbably comeback just minutes earlier.

Then, things got weird.

The second half was a game of football hot potato.  Both offenses completely stalled and were forced to punt repeatedly.  The Terps seemed to break open the game when Tony Logan returned a punt 43 yards to the Clemson 1, and Davin Meggett punched it in a few plays later.  Then, CJ Spiller took the ensuing kick-off 92 yards for a TD and a Clemson counter punch.  Waves of orange and red were rocking accross the stadium.  Everyone was looking around like, “Oh, it’s on.”  But it wasn’t.

The fourth quarter was an exercise in offensive futility for both teams.  Maryland had lost big offensive lineman Bruce Campbell to injury, and Clemson was getting penetration on every down.  It was as if they had one guy line-up in the Maryland backfield on each play.  Clemson started three drives in a row in Maryland territory late in the fourth quarter, including one that resulted from a bonehead call by Friedgen to go for it on a 4th-and-inches on his own thirty-one yard line.  The Tigers failed to move the ball time and time again, and ended up missing two long field goals that would have tied the game.  Maryland fans watched with raised blood pressure and shortness of breath as the Terps froze the Tigers on each fourth quarter drive.  In the end, Maryland freshman linebacker Demitrius Hartsfield put the kibosh on Clemson’s comeback attempt by forcing and recovering a fumble on their final drive to put an end to things.  To add to the drama, the officials reviewed the play as Maryland fans looked on, hoping the madness would end.  It did, and the Terps got the win.

Big ups to:

  • Chris Turner for leading the comeback
  • Torrey Smith for looking like a track athlete while racking-up YAC on his TD catch and adding 174 all-purpose yards to his big year
  • Demitrius Hartsfield for 10 tackles, 8 of which were solo, and a huge game ending sack-forced fumble and recovery
  • Cameron Chism for mutliple open field touchdown saving tackles against CJ Spiller
  • Nick “The Kick II” Ferrara for converting a 43 yd field goal, filling in on punting dutuies and averaging an outstanding 43 yds per punt, and handling the kick-offs

Maryland is now 1-0 in ACC play.   This is just the beginning of a four game stretch that presents some winnable games for the Terps.

After the game we savored victory in the parking lot, staying an hour late to let the Clemson fans get out while we toasted the win with some cold brews.  It was a fun game to watch and a great time for Maryland fans.  I hope more of you show up to the next one.

Don’t forget to vote for Shell Games in the Baltimore Sun Mobbies contest!


Chris Turner voted for Shell Games before the Clemson game*


Your vote: it’s a beautiful thing. Almost as beautiful as that Chris Turner touchdown pass to Ronnie Tyler in the corner of the end zone to end the first half. This man, he is resilient. This team, it is maddening. But I love them so.

I’m going to a wedding now…I hope the Tivo and the sports ticker have good news for me when I come back. Or, better yet, I hope the reception hall gets ESPNU.

In any event, please vote for Shell Games. If it works for Chris Turner on the field of battle, it will work for you on the field of life*. Much obliged to you.

* Statements may not be based in fact.

(Photo credit: Nick Wass/AP and former Diamondback photog)


Punter Travis Baltz injured, Turner to just throw long interceptions on fourth down


Adding injury to insult, punter Travis Baltz is out at least two weeks after a late hit during Saturday’s loss to Rutgers. The best player on our special teams is said to have a “very swollen” ankle.

Great. Thanks so much for that, Rutgers special teams player Steve Beauharnais. Nice surname.  What is that, some kind of foo foo breakfast sauce?  Guess who’s getting a flaming bag of dog poop punted against his dorm room window this week.  If you said “Steve Beauharnais,” you are correct.

But on the field, where do we go from here?  If Baltz misses extended time, what chance will he have of meeting Ray Guy?  How will the offense function without its safety net?  They can’t fumble on EVERY possession. For those times when a turnover didn’t happen, backup Ted Townsley and place kicker Nick Ferrara combined for a 32-yard average and one bobbled snap. Powerhouse.  By comparison, Baltz was averaging about 40 yards and — if you can believe it — has ZERO turnovers on the season. Not exactly filling the shoes there, backups. What would Ray Guy think?  We need to get you all one of those inspirational message bracelets.  WWRGT.  So that you may never forget.

With the Terps needing to reassess the goals of their season, Baltz and his run for the Ray Guy Award could have taken on a role similar to that of Zach Greinke and his bid for the Cy Young Award, which is currently the only thing keeping Kansas City Royals players and fans coming to the ballpark. Baltz ranks 63rd in the nation in punting and fifth out of nine guys on the watch list. Perhaps not Ray Guy material, but he could have rebounded. We could start taking a knee for the first three downs. Heck, punt on first down. Would it change things THAT much? See, this is outside-the-box thinking. Are you reading, Fridge? You can’t put a price on this stuff.

(Photo credit: Some woman named Anne)


After 1-3 start, time to move the goalposts

Let me just state the obvious.  Forget about contending.  Forget about a bowl game.  Forget about respectability. After a 34-13 drubbing at home to Rutgers, maybe the Terps need some new, slightly more modest goals.  How about mediocrity?

But before that, the game. At this point, it’s clear this is not a good team.  I know, I know…this limb’s gonna snap!!!   But seriously, their problems seem more intractable each week.  Saying this team would be good “if they just stopped committing turnovers” is like saying the alcoholic would get better if he just stopped drinking; it’s obvious there are deeper demons after five more giveaways yesterday.  Da’Rel Scott, for whatever reason, suddenly can’t hold on to the football.  Chris Turner made some horrific decisions.  And of course, there’s the pitiful O-line, which caused the almost comically awful play in the Terp end zone when Turner tried to throw it away to avoid a safety but instead just dribbled it onto the turf.  Touchdown Rutgers.

The defense just plain sucks right now.  Alex Wujciak, the unit’s leader, got 17 tackles and played well, but made no tackles for loss and forced no turnovers.  That sums up the unit:  they just don’t make plays.  Just the opposite, in fact; they’re extraordinarily susceptible to big plays, as evidenced by Joe Martinek’s late TD runs of 29 and 61 yards to ice the game.

Torrey “Darrius Heyward-Bey” Smith continued his great but baffling play, finishing with 237 total yards but fading out of the offense in the second half.   They’ve gotta get him the ball.  I repeat: they have got to get him the ball.  Don’t overthink it.  Ride him into the ground.

I’ll stop there with the criticisms.  Now, back to the goals.  Since, for all intents and purposes, we’re playing for pride now, let’s do just that.  Here’s a bold new goal:  let’s try to not be the ACC’s worst team.  The conference is weak.  Duke and UVA should be Ws, right?  Right?  Bueller? 

Final thought:  it looks bleak, but I’m not taking up the torch and pitchfork yet.  We’ve still got some eminently beatable teams on the schedule, and in the weak-as-my-grandmama ACC, much is possible.  If the Terps, knowing they’re not gonna contend, can just keep their heads up and claw their way back to the pack, it won’t be a lost season.  If nothing else, they’ve gotta beat Duke.  It’s so important to have goals!  Even if  you have to change them all the time.


A Rutgers-Maryland preview from the late Michael Jackson

michael_jackson_031605Hello.  I’m Michael Jackson.  The entertainer?   I recently passed away very quietly after a long bout with vampirism and hospital-grade anesthesia.  What?  Is that weird?  I don’t think so.  I think dying is very sweet.  Very charming.  And now I’m back!  To spread a message of hope. And to handicap the Rutgers-Maryland game.

You didn’t know I was a football fan?  I love football; it makes you wish, and dream.  It provides a break from reality…sometimes I really needed that. Can’t you just picture me on a Saturday afternoon, lounging on my $750,000 rainbow-colored hippopotamus couch, a plate of corn dogs in one hand, ice cold glass of bat milk in the other?  That’s a good lunch for me.

For the Maryland-Rutgers game, lots of weird parallels. It’s like Maryland holds up their hand in the mirror, and there’s Rutgers, and they’re waving, but at the same time, and they’re perfectly aligned!  You know?  No?  Shamon over here and I’ll show you. First of all, both teams lost big in their openers–Rutgers lost to Cincinnati 47-15, and we all know about the Terps. Hee hee! But Rutgers is 2-1 now, while Maryland is 1-2. Both teams gamble with blitz-happy defenses, but the Rutgers defense locked down after its loss, surrendering just 22 points to Howard and FIU, while the Terps have surrendered approximately 822 points.   Both have a two-headed RB monster — Joe Martinek and Jourdan Brooks for Rutgers, Scott and Meggett for the Terps. Rutgers starts an unproven freshman at QB (although he might be injured), and Maryland starts an unproven senior (just kidding Chris — a-HEE HEE!).

Even their stadium situations are eerily similar in an Opposite Day kind of way (Yaaay! I LOVE, I mean, I HATE Opposite Day!). Maryland’s ticket problems in its newly expanded stadium are well documented, but meanwhile Rutgers is packing its newly expanded stadium.  It’s cra-zee!  Almost as crazy as that Bubbles thing. Want to know a secret?  There was no such thing as Bubbles. He wasn’t real!  It was just some chimpanzee that I was having intercourse with. Sexual intercourse.

Bottom line:  it’s a broken record for the Terps — and I should know about breaking records. If Maryland can get its O-line and running game working, they have a chance. If Torrey Smith can light up star CB Devon McCoury like a jheri curl on a Pepsi shoot, they have a chance. If Bruce Campbell returns at left tackle and can help slow down pass rush specialist Jonathan Freeny (Dwight’s second cousin), they have a chance.  If they can play mistake-free, they have a chance.

But as with Billie Jean’s paternity suit, there are many ifs. And I don’t see that Maryland’s home field advantage is as strong as in years past. I would rank it behind the home field advantage I enjoyed at Neverland, although I had wine and special locks and Ferris wheels and wishing trees and hospital-grade anesthesia. As previously mentioned. Wheeee! Sorry, Terps, but I love my Scarlet Knights. But do not be melancholy.  I love you all forever.

Love always,

Prediction:  Rutgers 27, Maryland 16


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September 2020