Tracking the Terps: Way too many negatives for Maryland

There was almost a sense of inevitability about Maryland's second-half meltdown in a 31-10 loss at Wake Forest Saturday.

Not just for those who have followed the Terps during what is now a 2-9 debut season for Randy Edsall, but for Edsall himself.


Maybe that's why Edsall had what someone described to me as a small hint of a smile on his face as he ran to his team's lockerroom at BB&T Field. Maybe that explains why Edsall seemed so relaxed after his team's seventh straight defeat, the sixth this season by double digits.

In talking about various aspect of his team's performance, Edsall accentuated the positive, made jokes about Nick Ferrara's "needing to be on a couch" for his kicking woes and seemed resigned to the fact that even one of his team's injuries last week , to starting center Bennett Fulper, fit perfectly in with this imperfect, disappointing season.

"There's one, we lose Bennett on Thursday, we're doing special teams and he's over doing a drill with the offensive line and he goes and slips and does kind of a slip -- boom, hamstring gets pulled," Edsall said Saturday. "Whatever could go wrong, has gone wrong."

It left yet another freshman, redshirt Sal Conaboy, as the team's starting center. Aside from having a 5-yard penalty called on him on a fourth-and-3 where the Terps were going for it, Conaboy handled the job pretty well, according to Edsall.

The most impressive freshman for the Terps -- maybe the most impressive player -- was defensive tackle Andre Monroe, who sacked Wake Forest quarterback Tanner Price three times in the first half. Monroe started in place on senior Maurice Hampton and will likely start there next week -- and next season.

But amid the positives, there were some negatives. Among them:

*Quarterback C.J. Brown's inability to hit on long passes. Brown, playing in place of an injured Danny O'Brien (out for the season after breaking a bone in his left arm against Notre Dame in the previous game), was terrific with his feet (a team-leading 110 yards on 13 carries), but continually either throws deep balls too long or not long enough. That he threw 42 times in what was a close game for more than a half tells me that offensive coordinator Gary Crowton is not utilizing Brown's ability to run.

*Edsall's rotation of his tailbacks. He used only senior Davin Meggett three times in the first half, though Meggett's second carry was for 47 yards, and 11 times (for 91 yards) for the game. Edsall also ran D.J. Adams on successive plays in the third quarter and the sophomore who has spent most of the season in the doghouse was back on the sideline after a 2-yard run and one that had no gain.


*Ferrara's continued troubles. Since making four of five field goal attempts in the season-opening win over Miami -- that seems like two years ago by now -- Ferrara has converted just eight of 14, including one of three Saturday. He also punted for 15 yards and 32 yards on his first two attempts.

* Defensive coordinator Todd Bradford's pass coverage schemes. After getting decent pressure on Price in the first half, the sophomore quarterback shredded the Terps with a lot of underneath routes early in the second half and then going over the top later on. Considering that Chris Givens, Wake Forest's top receiver, was under the weather and said he was "winded after taking two steps," you have to wonder about Maryland's ability to cover anyone.

Speaking of negatives, next Saturday's season finale at North Carolina State could be filled with them for Edsall and the Terps. Maryland will be trying to avoid losing its sixth straight ACC game by double digits - something no Terps team has done since the end of the 1997 season and the beginning of the 1998 season under Ron Vanderlinden. Maryland is trying to avoid its second 10-loss season in three years.

But hey, let's look at a positive to finish off -- the basketball team could go 2-1 on its Puerto Rico trip if it beats Iona Sunday.