Terps' QB Turner 'Is Literally Chill All the Time'
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Entering this season's opener, Chris Turner was the only quarterback among Maryland's top three who wasn't guaranteed playing time. In his career, he has thrown just two more touchdown passes than interceptions. And he has been the starter in two of the worst losses of his head coach's career.
Yet few quarterbacks in the country are more uniquely qualified to lead their team into a venue such as Virginia Tech's Lane Stadium for a nationally televised game than Turner, whose serene nature always has been an asset on the biggest stages against the best competition.
"I have played in some pretty big games," Turner said. "I hear this is different than all of them. But you know me, I like big games."
The junior is believed to be the nation's only quarterback who has played a large role in five straight victories over ranked opponents, dating from last season. And while Virginia Tech is not ranked, tonight's matchup will provide a hostile environment: The Hokies have won eight of their last 10 home games that were played on Thursday night and broadcast by ESPN.
Turner has been more consistent week-to-week this season, but his uncanny knack for raising his game against top opponents has been a popular topic around the Terrapins since last season, when he helped Maryland beat two top 10 teams, Rutgers and Boston College.
Tonight will be Turner's first Thursday night game as well as his first game in Blacksburg, but he has shown no signs of trepidation, which is in lockstep with his personality. That much-discussed demeanor -- so tranquil that Coach Ralph Friedgen once said Turner often seems like he's lost in outer space -- plays a large role, teammates said, in Turner's ability to remain steady against elite competition or at hostile venues.
"He is literally chill all the time," said offensive lineman Dane Randolph, who shares an apartment with Turner. "Even when we travel, he is cool, calm and collected. He is not going through his game plan in a hurry. He is like: 'I already know it. I have done it all week. I'm ready to go.' "
This week, a reporter reminded Turner that in Maryland's last visit to Lane Stadium in 2004, Virginia Tech romped, 55-6, in a Thursday night game that included a devastating hit that forced quarterback Jordan Steffy from the game because of a concussion. Steffy probably could offer some insight into the Blacksburg experience, but Turner was blase about getting a scouting report from his teammate.
"I should probably ask him," Turner said nonchalantly. "I don't know if I will. I haven't asked him. Should I?"
That squares with most people's perception of Turner, who effectively plays into the stereotype of a laid-back Californian. In practice, Turner is known to stick his head into the offensive huddle, hear linemen whispering and simply say, "Shut up." On two-point conversion drills, he sometimes plays coy about which play has been called and makes his teammates guess.
Friedgen loves recounting a story about the coach stressing the team's need for more consistency from the quarterback.
Turner clarified, "You want me to play good every week?"