Bouncing Back

Terps hope to bounce back from Saturday's discouraging 31-17 loss to WVU.

As Maryland attempts to bounce back from Saturday’s discouraging 31-17 loss to West Virginia, the team faces questions that lingered before the debacle in Morgantown as well as new concerns that have arisen in the wake of the defeat.

After the game, Maryland head coach Ralph Friedgen was quick to assume responsibility for the disastrous first half. “West Virginia just played better than we did. They are a good football team. They played a lot better than us in the first half and that's my fault,” said Friedgen.

The relentless pressure that West Virginia applied gave the Terps headaches all day. Maryland quarterbacks were sacked eight times, the most in a game during Friedgen’s nine plus year tenure as head coach, and the team was held to -10 yards rushing.

In the process, Maryland got banged up. Both literally and figuratively, the biggest injury that Terps suffered was that to 6’6”, 300 lb sophomore left tackle Justin Gilbert. Gilbert went down in the third quarter with what ended up being an ACL injury that will end his season, according to Friedgen in his news conference Tuesday. After Gilbert left the game, the Terps surrendered five sacks and the running game was even further limited.

Gilbert had stepped up in the offseason to claim the left tackle slot left vacant by the departure of Bruce Campbell. In the Terps’ first two games, Gilbert looked impressive both pass blocking and in the running game. After Gilbert came out of the game on Saturday, Friedgen opted to move right tackle R.J. Dill to the left and insert redshirt freshman Pete DeSouza on the right side, and in Tuesday’s news conference he said that this would be the plan moving forward.

Backup quarterback Danny O’Brien who had seen playing time in the Terps first two games, entered with 30 seconds remaining in the first half, only to get drilled on his lone play and aggravated his pre-existing ankle condition. O’Brien didn’t return to action, but Friedgen said on Tuesday that he is “anticipated to play,” along with starter Jamarr Robinson who nicked up his shoulder in the loss.

Despite falling behind 28-0 and looking utterly hopeless in the first half, the Terps did manage to battle back in the second. Robinson found Torrey Smith for 60-and 80-yard touchdown strikes in the third quarter to cut the lead to 28-14.

Late in the third, it appeared Robinson would connect with Smith for a third time. After shaking free of two defenders, Smith was open in the back of the end zone, but Robinson’s pass went through Smith’s hands. It fell flat on the turf, as did the Terps’ momentum.

“It’s killing me that I dropped the ball. Lack of concentration,” Smith said on his Twitter account following the game.

In another tweet, Smith expressed his disappointment with the result, but optimism moving forward: “Terpnation I apologize for that one...we didn't show up till it was too late...we're gonna get it right.”

Some other Maryland players also used Twitter to broadcast their feelings after the game: “Wish I can have some plays back...but football doesn't work like that...gotta move on,” said cornerback Cameron Chism.

“..It's all good.. goals are still reachable,” tweeted running back D.J. Adams.

“Played the worst game I will play this season and that is a guarantee...,” linebacker Demetrius Hartsfield said in a tweet.

“We lost and we’re all pissed off about the loss,” said defensive tackle A.J. Francis at the news conference on Tuesday. “But for us to get back where we want to get this season, it’s just one loss and we still have nine games left.”

In Tuesday’s news conference, Friedgen said that the loss could make the team stronger. “I still have a lot of belief in this team,” he said. “Hopefully we can take our experiences from this game to help us in future games. If there's ever a time we need to pull together, it's right now.”

At noon on Saturday, the Terps take on 0-2 FIU, who suffered losses at the hands of Rutgers and Texas A&M. However, the Golden Panthers led in the fourth quarter of both games. In a hostile environment in College Station last weekend, the Aggies had to rally and score 21 unanswered fourth quarter points in order to come out ahead.

“They should be 2-0,” Friedgen said of FIU. “They have a very good defense and great speed, which concerns me"

Maryland knows not to take a team from the Sun Belt Conference lightly. The Terps lost to Middle Tennessee State in 2008 and 2009, and don’t want to be embarrassed at Byrd Stadium again.

“This game is an important game for us,” said Friedgen. “We have to reestablish ourselves, reestablish our confidence, and get our momentum going in the direction we want it to go right now.”

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