Perhaps the Terps had underestimated the Owls, or maybe they were still riding the emotional roller coaster that was last week's matchup against rival West Virginia. Whatever it happened to be though, the Terps were an absolute train wreck on Saturday afternoon in their 38-7 loss to Temple.
I saw a little bit of lack of focus on Tuesday and I addressed it, said Edsall. I thought a couple of guys needed to be addressed but I thought we were better on Wednesday. But on Thursday I saw the same thing. We need to be a team that doesn't take those slaps on the back, and I think some of our guys felt that even though we were 1-1, we thought we were better than we were.
The Owls dominated every single faze of the game from start to finish, with quarterback Chester Stewart connecting on a 54-yard completion to tight end Evan Rodriguez on their first play from scrimmage, which immediately placed Temple within the Maryland red zone. Two plays later, Bernard Pierce punched it in for 2 yards, marking the beginning of a record setting day for the junior tailback. Pierce ended the day with 5 rushing touchdowns, tying the MAC record for most rushing touchdowns ever in a game. I think I did good, he said. I'm still looking for improvement. I can never be the best. I can never be great. There's always room for improvement.
The proceeding three Temple possessions all resulted in rushing touchdowns by Pierce, who by halftime had amassed 108 yards on 20 carries for 4 TD.
The respective possessions for the Terps however, weren't nearly as productive. On four straight possessions, the special teams unit was called out to punt; with one punt blocked due to a missed shift assignment. Malcolm Eugene recovered the blocked punt on the Maryland 7, and Pierce wasted no time taking the ball in for his second rushing TD of the day.
In a first-half performance eerily reminiscent of last week's loss to West Virginia, the offense struggled to get anything going, failing to convert on 4th and 2 on their only trip to the red zone they registered. We're always ready to play, said running back Davin Megget. Anytime you step on the field you have to have a certain mindset. Apparently today we weren't in the right mindset.
A 41-yard Brandon McManus field goal as time expired sent the Owls into the locker room with a 31-0 lead at halftime. In the first half, the Owls amassed 284 yards of offense to Maryland's 121. Quarterback Chester Stewart was 6-6 for 115 yards and Bernard Pierce had carried 20 times for 108 yards and 4 rushing touchdowns.
They didn't do anything special, said defensive end Kenny Tate. We knew they were going to run the ball and they came and gave it to us. We couldn't stop the run and we couldn't get the ball moving.
Stewart, who was making his first start of the season, ended his day 9-9 for 140 yards and 0 TD. I'm content with my performance, he said. It may look flawless, but I know I made some mistakes and some plays could have hit and I just messed up on them, so I'm looking forward to getting back into it and correcting those mistakes.
A few of the 39,102 fans in attendance perhaps lingered around in the second half in the hopes that the coaching staff would once again be able to inspire their team like they had the previous week. Yet, those hopes were quickly vanquished as the Owls painfully drained the clock throughout their second half possessions and then proceeded to hold the Maryland offense to little or no gain when on defense.
I had a tremendous amount of respect for Temple because I had coached against them before, said Edsall. I guess I didn't get that point across to the players.
The lone bright spot of the day for the Terrapins perhaps, came late in the 4th quarter, when Edsall decided to pull the starters and give backup C.J. Brown a whirl at running the offense. Brown, who broke his collarbone last season against Morgan State, looked in command on the field against the Temple second string, going 4-4 for 72 yards. His lone drive was highlighted by a late 18-yard TD flip to Devonte Campbell.
C.J. [Brown] did a great job against their twos, said Edsall in his post-game conference. But Danny is our starting quarterback. We can put that controversy to bed. C.J. did a good job when he came in.
Of the many holes in the Terps' game today, perhaps the most glaring was the disparity of production on the ground. The Maryland defense surrendered 285 yards rushing and only managed 45 total rushing yards of their own.
The potent offense that we all saw against Miami and in the second half against West Virginia was nowhere to be found on Saturday. The Terps controlled the ball for a mere 18:59 to Temple's 41:01. In that little time, Maryland produced an anemic 240 yards of total offense to Temple's 425.
Sophomore quarterback Danny O'Brien finished the game 17-33 for 153 yards, 0 TD and one late interception.
We came into this game very confident because we prepared so hard, said O'Brien. Right from the beginning they got some momentum and we never seemed to turn the tables. Our focus was there, but maybe not our effort, we'll see on tape. But this is a tough one. Our offense never got into a rhythm and we really depend on that because we are such a tempo offense and we have to keep the defense on their heels. When we do that we're tough to stop but we have to do a better job of being more consistent.
The lack of effort was one of the hot topics in the post-game press conference and Edsall didn't need to be provoked to address the subject. This is an experience that I am not happy with and do not want to experience again, stated Edsall. No one said this was going to be easy. There are lessons to learn and things have to be learned. You find out a lot about your team in games like this. You find out who are the guys who will lay it on the line when the going gets tough. We won't use any excuses; we got out butts kicked today plain and simple. I don't care if a freshman is out there or it's a junior or senior, whoever is out there it's their duty to play as hard as they can for every play they are out there.
The players were similarly embarrassed by their efforts throughout the game. We did have the will to come back in the second half, said Kenny Tate. Things just didn't go our way. We couldn't stop the run and we couldn't get the ball moving. We couldn't do anything. We didn't have any energy.
We all just need to come out and practice much better and take practice more seriously, said defensive tackle Joe Vellano. Come out and take it just as if it were a game. We need to step up in every direction.
The much-heralded offensive line of the Terps, who had allowed zero sacks through the first two games, were not nearly as impressive today, allowing 3 sacks and often leaving O'Brien scrambling in the backfield. They were a good team, said offensive lineman Andrew Gonnella. They were tough players and they wanted it more than we did. We have to pick ourselves back up and keep moving forward.
As embarrassing as the loss was however, the Terps players know they can't mire in their defeat. They played and executed their game plan a lot better than we executed ours, said Megget. We had a lot of mistakes and allowed a lot of things that shouldn't have happened, happen. We need to come back and start working on Towson tomorrow.
We just need to come out and practice better, obviously, added Vellano. We only have three days to prepare for our opponent and three days isn't much. Overall, special teams and offense, and as a whole, we need to get better.
Today's win for Temple was the program's first ever win over an ACC team in school history. It was also the Owl's first win ever over Maryland, drawing the series history to 6-1 in favor of the Terps.
Saturday's game marked the second year in a row that an Edsall-coached team had fallen to the Owls, as Temple defeated his Connecticut team last year, 30-16.
I have to get an attitude of people who hate to lose and love to compete at a high level every time they are out there, said Edsall. When you go out to practice you practice at a high level. When you go out on the field we should expect to win and not take anyone for granted. This is a process we are in. It wasn't going to get changed over night no matter how much I want it to. Games like this make me more determined to get it done. These games you find out who your leaders and competitors are. We find out who we can go with heading into next week. I am looking forward to learning who these people are.
With the win, Temple improves to 3-1, 1-0 MAC. The Owls will take on Toledo at home next week. With the loss, Maryland falls to 1-2, 1-0 ACC. They will take on Towson at home next week.