As I was watched the Terps beat #23 Cal on Saturday, I saw something from this team that has not been there in the past two years. I saw a team that came out fighting. I saw Heyward-Bey stretch for a first down to keep the drive alive on their second scoring drive. I saw Kevin Barnes lay such a hit on Jahved Best that he went to his knees and puked. I saw Da’Rel Scott and Davin Meggett lower their shoulders and punch it in at the goal line. I saw a team that played with heart and confidence.
I’ll admit that I hit the panic button after the “unmentionable game”. You can admit it too, don’t be ashamed. After that game, Ralph Friedgen took the blame. This time around he deserves all the credit. After a week of working with offensive coordinator James Franklin to put together an aggressive game plan that opened up the offense, Friedgen reportedly delivered one of those pregame speeches that makes men recall painful childhood memories and channel their anger.
Friedgen stood-up before the team on Friday night and asked, “Who in this room has ever been told he is not good enough?” After raising his own hand the rest of the team raised their hands, and Friedgen went on to say, “How does that make you feel? It makes me mad. What are you going do to about it? That’s what people are saying about us. You have a chance tomorrow on national TV to show them who you are. We need to get after these guys as soon as they get off the bus.”
Despite the doubt we all shared about the state of the program after last week, it’s moments like this that remind us that Friedgen made this program what it is. I hope this team does not forget the lesson they learned this weekend. There is a lot of season left and the ACC is weak this year. If they keep fighting, they’ll find themselves back in a bowl game. As someone who went to Maryland during the football dark ages, I feared the program was sliding backward to 1999. This weekend, Friedgen proved that he won’t let that happen.