There are times when I say, ‘Wow, we are making progress,’ ” Friedgen said. “And there are other times when I say, ‘Are we going to show up?’
I read this comment on Saturday morning sitting in the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, DC, and thought, “He’s just setting expectations.” In retrospect, I think Ralph knew that we might expect this team to fly across the country, get overwhelmed by a better team that was out for blood, and head back to College Park with their tail between their legs. That’s exactly what happened.
The game started at 10PM EST. At 10:15 it was still 0-0. I called my buddy Matt, correctly figuring he might be heading back from the bar to watch the second half of the Tech game at home, and told him I’d hop in my car and meet him at his place to watch the Tech game and the Maryland game. I grabbed six beers out of the fridge, got in my car at 10:20, and flipped on XM 190. The display showed the score as 14-0 Cal. I did a double-take and listened carefully. In the span of 42 game seconds, or five minutes in real time, Jahvid Best had scored twice. The rout was on.
Is the season over? No. These days, Maryland generally plays to be in the hunt for the ACC title and, failing that possibility, something better than the Roady’s Humanitarian Bowl. Those goals are still possible to achieve.
Was there anything positive to take away from this game? No. On the offensive side of the ball, Da’Rel Scott did most of his damage on a single drive in garbage time during the third quarter. During the first two quarters, Maryland’s offensive line could not contain Cal’s linebackers, and Scott could not find a corner to turn. With 75 friends and family from Simi Valley literally populating the visitor’s section, Chris Turner started the game in rhythm against a defense that was bringing it, and he seemed to be prepared. Eventually, the constant jailbreak pressure proved to be too much. At a time when the Terps desperately needed to strike back, Turner turned into a game manager, often throwing short of the first down marker and failing to move the chains, at times looking as though he was running for his life. To add injury to insult, Bruce Campbell suffered a turf toe injury, and the only “veteran” offensive lineman we have may have to sit out.
Defensively, Maryland could not get pressure on the quarterback and Cal QB Kevin Riley had all the time he needed to pick apart the secondary. I guess an entire off-season of media hype regarding Dan Brown’s blitz scheme turned out to be a bunch of chutzpah. Cal did not seem to have a size advantage on Maryland, but they certainly outran the Terps, both up-front and in the secondary. It is tough to tell from yesterday’s game, but Brown may have to tone down the blitzing and have the secondary stay at home a bit more, especially against faster teams.
Needless to say, the Terps have a lot of room for improvement. They got beat on the road by a top-ranked team that has a Heisman Trophy candidate running back, and that’s not the end of the world. The team has a couple of weeks to get it’s act together before they face Rutgers. In the meantime, Friedgen should take a starter’s gun on the practice field and work on reaction times.