Ralph Friedgen had declared Maryland's visit to West Virginia last week as a test -- an indication of where his team was in its progression.
Friedgen was not thrilled with the results of the test, of course -- not after the Terps trailed 28-0 in a game they went on to lose by two touchdowns.
But there is much more to learn about this team. In fact, the next few weeks will tell as much about Maryland as the visit to Morgantown.
Yes, the Terps weren't ready to beat a nationally ranked team on the road. Let's concede that point even if Maryland fans aren't happy about that stark reality. But here comes a very different sort of trial -- winnable home games against Florida International and Duke that the Terps desperately need to redraw the arc of their season.
With all due respect, Florida International is not Morgan State. The Panthers, from the Sun Belt Conference, are more formidable. They lost by five to Rutgers and by seven at Texas A&M after blowing a two-touchdown lead.I heard an ad on Maryland's sports radio network describing FIU as "winless." Yes, that's true but not terribly helpful to Maryland's cause. Middle Tennessee was winless (0-1) when it beat the Terps by 10 in 2008.
This is the sort of game that Maryland has dropped in recent years. The Terps lost not once but twice ( 2008, 2009) to Middle Tennessee, which is also a member of the Sun Belt Conference.
It's the sort of game -- a home contest against a mid-major -- that good teams from the BCS conferences figure out how to win.
Maryland, I would suggest, doesn't quite know who it is yet. These next two contests are opportunities for the Terps to illustrate that they are not the same team as a year ago. The Navy victory was a fine start, but playing consistently well at home is critical if the Terps are to restore any swagger before heading on the road to Clemson after the bye week next month.
It must have been painful for Terps backers to watch the team tumble at West Virginia. Losing at home to FIU and/or Duke would be worse because it would signal a "here we go again" feeling among fans that Maryland desperately needs to avoid.
Through three games, by the way, Duke (1-2) has given up an average of 47 points. Those games were Elon, Wake Forest and No. 1 Alabama.
I wrote a story for today's paper on how Maryland players cope with the pressure of trying to build a "comeback" season.
Here's the link. I didn't realize until writing the piece that Maryland was doing a pre-game chant this season that is reminiscent of "Remember the Titans." After writing the piece, I couldn't get the chant ("Yeah, it's on baby, ooh aah!" ) out of my head.
And finally: Seldom-asked question about "Glee" -- what type of offense does the football team run?