Jordan Rules: Terps Turn to Steffy at QB
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Around 8 a.m. yesterday, Maryland offensive coordinator James Franklin informed his quarterbacks that Jordan Steffy would be the team's starter, recited an array of statistics to justify the decision and pronounced the quarterback competition over.
Steffy, a fifth-year senior, was tapped the starter for the Aug. 30 opener against Delaware after a competitive two-week battle with Chris Turner, the junior who will be No. 2, and Josh Portis, the athletic dual-threat quarterback who will play in specific situations throughout the season.
Turner started the final eight games last season and helped lead the Terrapins to victories over two top 10 teams, Rutgers and Boston College. But Steffy, who started the first five games last season before being sidelined with a concussion, ultimately won this season's starting job because of his consistency in practice and because he surpassed Turner in almost every statistical category the coaches measured.
"I evaluate what I see, and I have to have some credibility with my players," Maryland Coach Ralph Friedgen said. "If you don't reward people who practice well, you are in danger of losing the whole team."
The coaching staff had hoped to name a starter after Saturday's scrimmage, but no one distinguished himself. Coaches were still undecided Sunday, when Franklin polled a handful of veteran players -- roughly two-thirds voted for Steffy -- and conferred with Friedgen, who made the final decision. Friedgen canvassed the entire coaching staff for input, slept poorly Sunday night and awoke yesterday certain he made the right call.
Steffy said it was important to have the support of teammates and believes Maryland's new West Coast offense fits his style.
"I'm going to play loose," he said. "I'm not going out there playing and looking over my shoulder at all."
Maryland center Edwin Williams said each of the three quarterbacks is unique, but Steffy stands out because he prepares better than any player Williams has seen.
"If you ask Jordan on every play what he did and what he had to look at, he will tell you every single thing to a tee," Williams said. "As far as a quarterback goes, he knows exactly what he needs to do, how he needs to do it, when he needs to throw, what speed. Jordan played as a true freshman; he knows what it takes to be a division I quarterback."
Franklin said the gap between Steffy and Turner was small when considering all factors, including gut feeling and last season's performance. But he said Steffy had a fairly significant advantage over Turner in statistics from spring and summer practices and scrimmages.
For example, Steffy led Turner by a large margin in completion percentage (67 percent to 57 percent) and lowest interception percentage, Franklin said. Portis led the three in percentage of passing plays longer than 16 yards.
"If one quarterback all through the spring and all through summer camp was statistically better in almost every single category," Franklin said, "it's hard to rationalize not making him the starter."