COLLEGE PARK -- A smattering of boos echoed around Byrd Stadium as Maryland was stumbling to one of its worst defeats on Saturday since Ralph Friedgen became coach in 2001.

Critical fans vented on blogs and message boards after Middle Tennessee State's 32-31 victory - a common occurrence after harrowing defeats.

Friedgen was asked during a media conference call Sunday whether the boos registered with him.

"I don't really get involved in that," the coach said. "I know that's their prerogative. I don't know what that does to our players. It doesn't affect me."

Friedgen said his team made a variety of mistakes - blown coverages, penalties, turnovers - mostly at inopportune times.

He singled out a number of errors, including a first-half offside penalty on fourth down that kept alive a Middle Tennessee drive. The penalty was called on A.J. Francis, a freshman tackle.

"There's 26 plays I'm looking at right now. If any one of those 26 plays went our way, we might win the football game," Friedgen said.

Friedgen said a 42-yard field-goal attempt by Maryland's Nick Ferrara missed by "six inches." The kick could have put the Terps ahead by five points in the game's final two minutes. Even a successful 42-yard kick by Ferrara earlier almost went awry because of a low snap, Friedgen said.

Friedgen said his defense appeared to be "worn out" when the Blue Raiders drove 73 yards in the last 1:30 to set up the game-winning 19-yard field goal.

"The one thing I still see us doing, we're still playing very, very hard," Friedgen said.

The fans' criticism on the Internet was similar to last year, when the Terps were upset by Middle Tennessee, 24-14. It was the first time Maryland had ever lost to a Sun Belt Conference opponent. Most of this season's barbs are directed at Friedgen and his recruiting, and some target assistant coaches James Franklin and Don Brown.

Friedgen and Franklin are largely linked. Friedgen is a mentor to Franklin and helped the younger man secure a contract under which Maryland promised to pay Franklin $1 million if he is not elevated to head coach by Jan. 2, 2012.

Last season, the Terps followed the Middle Tennessee loss with a 35-27 victory over California the next week. Led by 30 seniors, Maryland played well enough in the succeeding weeks to push its record to 6-2, the high-water mark of the year. Rebounding this season will be more challenging. The team is younger and appears mistake-prone. It has suffered injuries at key positions - in the secondary and on the offensive line - in which the replacements are largely untested.

Maryland rewind

Replay: : Sophomore Cameron Chism makes his second interception of the game with Maryland leading Middle Tennessee State 31-29 in the fourth quarter. Chism returns the ball 11 yards to the Middle Tennessee 43. But Maryland couldn't capitalize with a score.

Erase: : Two late Middle Tennessee passing plays kill the Terps. On fourth-and-1 from the Maryland 32, receiver Garrett Andrews beats Anthony Wiseman to the ball on a pass over the middle and runs it in to put the Blue Raiders ahead 29-28. Later, quarterback Dwight Dasher hits Chris McClover for 35 yards to the Maryland 10-yard line to set up the game-winning field goal.

Fast forward: : The Terps (1-2, 0-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) face Rutgers at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Byrd Stadium. After their 23-15 win over Florida International on Saturday, the Scarlet Knights are 2-1.


Saturday, 3:30 p.m.


Radio: 105.7 FM, 1300 AM

Line: Rutgers

by 3

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