Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
This should be a good week for Maryland quarterback Chris Turner. Should.
He celebrated his 21st birthday on Monday, and six or seven family members are flying in from California to cheer him on as the Terps host Cal.
The only problem is the Terps (1-1) are hosting Cal (2-0).
Maryland is one of the most consistently inconsistent teams in the ACC, and if it is going to have any chance against the surging Golden Bears, Turner knows he's got to play better than he did in the 24-14 loss to Middle Tennessee State last weekend.
Turner completed 13-of-28 passes for 207 yards and a touchdown and threw three interceptions -- two of which halted fourth-quarter drives as Maryland trailed by 10 points.
"As you can imagine, I'm not happy with how I played," Turner said, "but I keep telling everyone the good news is I can only get better. I'm confident. I've had some pretty good games in the past. If I just play to my ability, I think we'll be alright."
After starting the last eight games of 2007, Turner was benched in favor of Jordan Steffy this summer. But he regained his starting spot last week when Steffy injured his thumb. Turner has tried to figure out what went wrong for him, and the one thing he came up with is being out of rhythm.
"Our offense now takes a lot of timing, a lot of rhythm going through progressions," said Turner, a native of Simi Valley, Calif. "Sometimes I'd rush through progressions, sometimes I'd be so slow. Basically I have to translate what I do in practice onto the field. In practice things mesh pretty well. The timing is there. In the game it's a little bit faster."
And Cal will certainly bring the speed. On defense, cornerback Syd'Quan Thompson is tied for the nation's lead in interceptions with three, and offensively, Jahvid Best leads the Pac-10 with 155.5 rushing yards per game. They're coming off a 66-3 romp of Washington State.
Still, Turner is convinced the team is better than what it showed a week ago.
"I can't even think of a good way to describe how much better we are," Turner said. "On paper, obviously we're much better than that. We have tons of speed, tons of athletes. We were a much better team and we didn't play like that. People can take that for what it's worth. There are always going to be skeptics, but we know what we're capable of. We know that if we play how we're capable of playing, we can beat anybody. We showed that last year."