ESPN personality – and Maryland graduate and fan – Scott Van Pelt generated significant buzz in the Terps fan community with his criticism of Maryland students leaving early Saturday during the team's 27-26 victory over Virginia at Byrd stadium.
Terps players were asked about the fans' behavior today. Several acknowledged they noticed fans departing, but that they couldn't allow it to affect their performance.
"Yeah, you notice it," quarterback C.J. Brown said. "But you try not to pay too much attention to it. We've just kind of got to go out there and play our game. We still think we have great fans. We've got to give our credit to them. They were there this past Saturday, they were huge for us in the fourth quarter – very loud and supportive."
Van Pelt said he couldn't help but notice fans leaving. He said that the Cavaliers "were driving into the teeth of the student section that was, I don't know, three-quarters empty, maybe half-empty. Whatever it was, empty seats outnumbered students."
It rained during a small portion of the game, but Van Pelt said that shouldn't have compelled the students to depart.
Fan behavior can be a delicate subject. Coaches know that home field noise can distract opponents and energize the home team. But coaches and players are often reluctant to criticize fans because they don't want to antagonize their base.
Linebacker Andre Monroe said students' support is welcome but that the team won't fall apart if students leave before the end of the game.
“It’s fine with us because we’re going to keep churning, keep playing,” Monroe said.