On the losing end of an ugly game in Durham last season, Maryland prevailed over Duke in another less-than-pretty affair on Saturday.
The 2010 team has showed the killer instinct that the 2009 squad lacked so dearly. Not only did the Terps battle back against Duke, trailing by two possessions late in the second quarter, but they managed to hold on to a lead by the skin of their teeth for the second time this season.
Last year, Maryland held leads in five of their ten losses. So far in 2010, the Terps havent lost a game that theyve led.
Chalk that up to inferior competition, rationalize it however you want, but this is the kind of game the Terps would have lost last year. Not capitalizing on opportunities, allowing their opponent to hang around for too long would have spelled imminent doom.
Not this year.
Facing another team that relied on an aerial attack, Maryland managed to key in and fixed the biggest leak from the last two weeks.
In their previous two games, against West Virginia and Florida International, the Terps defense allowed their opponents to convert on 23 of 39 third-down conversions. On Saturday however, Maryland held the Blue Devils to 4 of 16 on third-downs, including vital stops on third and fourth down with less than three minutes remaining, with Duke driving to tie the game.
It was just our will, said safety Antwine Perez of Marylands success on third down. When we brought the blitz, we came with it.
The defenses confidence and newfound swagger for the Terps seems to drip down from Defensive Coordinator Don Brown. We didn't play scared, said Brown. We got after it.
Despite building momentum the last two wins, Head Coach Ralph Friedgen feels that the Terps bye week comes at an ideal time. I think our kids need to get away from football for a little bit, said Friedgen. They were here all summer, had a week off before we came back, and we've been pounding it pretty good.
As the Terps get ready to dive into the deep end of ACC play next Saturday, traveling to Death Valley to take on a dangerous Clemson team, the week off allows the team to re-energize, as Friedgen put it.
After playing hard fought games for five straight weeks, some of the players also expressed the timeliness of the break. If yall could see how me and [linebacker Alex Wujciak] are walking into this building, you would know a bye week was needed, tweeted wide receiver Torrey Smith on Monday.
For now the Terps have some much-deserved rest, but with Clemson looming, they shant be able to rest easy. Its almost time to sink or swim.