Carroll County Times
Carroll County

Commentary: Terps fare surprisingly well

COLLEGE PARK - It seemed like a mismatch. Maryland was again decimated by injuries. Missing their starting quarterback, running back, tight end, two wide receivers, two of their top linebackers and three of the four starters in the secondary, the Terrapins shouldn't have had a shot against No. 9 Clemson.
A week ago, the Tigers lost by 37 to No. 3 Florida State. The Seminoles had humiliated Maryland by 63-0 three weeks before. It smelled like a mismatch.
On homecoming day, 48,134 nearly filled Byrd Stadium on Saturday to watch a game that could have been lopsided. After all, this is the third straight year the Terps have been one of the most injured teams in the country.
"Things could always be worse," coach Randy Edsall said. "If you don't react in a positive way, if you as an individual say, 'I have to do more because of what's taken place,' then you're not doing the things necessary to help your team overcome that adversity."
Maryland was facing a team with Sammie Watkins, considered the top college receiver in the nation and Tajh Boyd, another likely first-round pick next spring, and through three quarters, played them surprisingly even.
The Terrapins were 17-point underdogs, and after Boyd became the second ACC passer in history to surpass 10,000 yards early in the first quarter, things could have looked bleak.
A funny thing happened. Maryland's defense, which allowed 34 points to mediocre Wake Forest, surrendered just one touchdown in the first three quarters, a five-yard pass from Boyd to Jordan Legget nine seconds before halftime.
Clemson is so potent that its kicker, Chandler Cantanzaro attempted just six field goals in their first seven games. Cantanzaro converted four in the first three quarters.
At halftime, Clemson had 294 yards and a nine-point lead. Through three, the Tigers led by six, but after Albert Reid fumbled and Clemson recovered on the Maryland 22, the Tigers quickly scored on Boyd's five-yard run and sealed the win.
The 13-point loss didn't seem bad on the surface, but it was still painful.
"This one stings," safety Sean Davis said. "We're beating ourselves up because we step on the field to win. We don't step on the field to be close."
The Terps are 5-3, one game away from bowl eligibility, and proved that they're much closer to respectability than they looked three weeks ago.
"I'm not so surprised that we were very close to beating them," linebacker Abner Logan said. "When a team is of that caliber with that talent, your margin of error is very small."
After next week's bye, Maryland needs a win in its next four games against Syracuse, Virginia Tech, Boston College and N.C. State for a bowl bid. In Edsall's first two years, the Terrapins have yet to win in the second half of the season.
That has to change, and probably will. Maryland looks talented enough to beat Syracuse in two weeks and could handle BC and State. Virginia Tech in Blacksburg in three weeks looks dicey, but overall, Maryland is still miles ahead of where it was a year or two ago.
"Someday, someday we'll get the breaks that we hopefully, maybe deserve," Edsall said.
Edsall wants to win badly, and realizes though he may develop the occasional NFL player, most of the young men who'll pass his way, won't play football again. Dealing with the rash of injuries is part of his job.
"I've got to make sure that when these guys leave here, and whatever they go into for the rest of their lives, I hope I set an example of how to deal with adversity and what you have to do to overcome that instead of feeling sorry for yourself," Edsall said.