COLLEGE PARK -- Despite his team's 2-6 start, Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen remains optimistic.
With the Terps on a three-game losing streak heading into Saturday's game at North Carolina State (3-5), Friedgen said many of the team's original goals - goals that included going to a bowl game and winning the Atlantic Coast Conference championship - are still within reach.
"As crazy as it sounds, if we win the next four games, we have a good chance of winning our [Atlantic] division," said Friedgen, noting the four victories - which would have to come against No. 22 Virginia Tech, Florida State, Boston College and North Carolina State - would also give the team the six wins necessary to go a bowl game. "But right now, before we get into those things, we need to win the next game. That's the goal right now. We need to get back on the winning track. I think that would help a lot of things. It would give our kids some inspiration and create some momentum."
Friedgen said he speaks to his players daily, both individually and collectively, on the importance of staying positive. The coach's message appears to be getting through."You've got to have that attitude," said junior linebacker Alex Wujciak, who leads the defense with 88 tackles. "If you don't, it's not going to happen. I think the seniors and a lot of us are eager to see what happens over the next four weeks. I think a lot of people don't understand that if we win all four games we go to a bowl, and if things break right we can still be ACC champions."
But first things first: getting a win Saturday.
"Whoever perseveres the longest usually wins," defensive lineman Travis Ivey said. "This definitely isn't the season we expected, but at the same time we've developed a camaraderie and we still have a chance."
Friedgen said he is pleased with the progress Maryland has made defensively. The Terps lead the ACC in rushing defense, giving up just 2.4 yards per carry, and are third in sacks with 13.
On the flip side, the Terps also lead in penalties, averaging 35.5 yards per game. But even there Friedgen found hope.
"Offensively, we've allowed only one sack in the last two weeks, where we were giving up four or five a game before that," he said. "Our penalties are way down. We've worked very hard on that. It's getting better, and I'm going to have officials at practice again [Tuesday] ... We're making strides. We're just not making them as fast as I'd like, but I understand the reason why. We've got young kids, and it takes awhile. We're working on it individually with each kid, and I'm trying to think of and do everything I can to help us get better."
The redshirt question
Is it better to redshirt young players and have them for an extra year or get them experience now that could be beneficial down the road? Is it better to play seniors and try to eke out some wins, or relegate this season to history and try to get next year's prospective starters more playing time? These are the questions facing Friedgen.
For this week, at least, it appears winning now trumps everything.
"I don't know if you realize that or not, but I'm tired of losing," Friedgen said. "It's about time we start winning. I can't rule out playing anybody. I have to do what I have to do to win football games. We'll see how the season goes. You know [in our last game] we had to play [freshman free safety] Eric Franklin and we kind of wanted to hold him out for a redshirt, but we got an injury. If we'd have an injury [at quarterback] and needed [freshman Danny O'Brien], I'd have to play him."
Sophomore quarterback Jamarr Robinson, whom Friedgen said he would like to get playing time, will probably have to sit more, too.
"Right now, it is more important to win a football game," Friedgen said. "There is a pretty big sense of urgency."
Terps land commitment
Rahsaan Moore, a defensive end and fullback at Wise High in Upper Marlboro, committed to Maryland on Monday.
The 6-foot-2, 235-pound senior picked the Terps over offers from New Mexico, Delaware State, James Madison, Liberty, Old Dominion, Richmond, Towson and William & Mary.
"He told me he always wanted to play for Maryland," Wise coach DaLawn Parrish said. "That's all it took - for them to offer. He knew what he was going to do."
Moore is the second Wise senior in Maryland's 2010 recruiting class. Titus Till, a safety, pledged to the Terps last winter. The Pumas are 9-0 and have recorded eight consecutive shutouts.
Baltimore Sun reporter Matt Bracken contributed to this article.
MARYLAND @N.C. STATE
Time: 1 p.m.
Radio: 105.7 FM, 1300 AM
Line: N.C. State by 7