Here are a variety of notes and observations after a jaw-dropping weekend for Maryland fans:
Don’t panic … yet: Seriously, as ugly as Saturday’s performance was — it was ghastly — it was one non-ACC game. This conference race is fluid. Some fans want to go on a scavenger hunt for guys named Friedgen, Franklin and Brown and put the band back to together again. Bailing on this team now is reactionary and foolish. Judge this team Oct. 23, the day after the Terrapins conclude a treacherous and critical three-game stretch. That stretch includes two Atlantic Division games, two road games and games against three of the ACC’s top four teams: at Georgia Tech, Clemson, at Florida State. Those games will determine whether Maryland will be an ACC contender, a marginal bowl team or worse.
Will Tyler and McCree shine?: Wide receivers Ronnie Tyler and Quintin McCree will start Saturday vs. Towson after serving two-game suspensions. The offense needs to find rhythm and some playmakers before it plays at Georgia Tech on Oct. 8. The two seniors will help. How much so will not be known until the Terrapins enter the heart of the ACC schedule.
Defensive depth: The Terps essentially likely will play without three defensive starters against Towson. Tackle Andre Monroe and linebacker Darin Drakeford are likely out because of ankle sprains. Safety Matt Robinson is out for the season because of a shoulder injury. Ankle sprains can be tricky; we’ll see about the health of Monroe and Drakeford for the Georgia Tech game. Defensive depth has been an issue, and it has become more of an issue for a team that already had its bye week.
Kenny Tate back to safety?: The loss of Robinson at least raises the possibility that Tate will move back to the position where he thrived last season. Maryland Coach Randy Edsall was not asked specifically about Tate moving, but he said that Austin Walker was one option for that starting safety spot. The depth chart, released later today, will answer plenty of questions.
Danny O’Brien’s development: Edsall continues to suggest that the quarterback may be trying to do too much. Edsall said he talked to O’Brien on Sunday morning. “I just told Danny that I just want him to do what we want him to do,” Edsall said. “Don’t go out and try to do too much. Let us just do the things we need to do, and if it’s not right, then it’s our fault as coaches. I want the blame to be put on me. I don’t want the blame on him. I just want him to go do what he is coached to do each week. Don’t think you have to do more than what is asked to you. If you do that, I think he’ll perform at a high level. Don’t analyze too many things. We had a good talk.”
The ACC is who we thought it was: We saw a typical weekend for the ACC. Maryland, Miami and Virginia all suffered disappointing non-conference losses Saturday. On Thursday, North Carolina State was run off the field by Cincinnati. Florida State, because of injury, has come back to the pack. But do you truly believe in Clemson? Virginia Tech has a quality defense but has not looked overpowering yet. Georgia Tech is the team no one wants to play. The league figures to be somewhat topsy-turvy once again. Don’t count out anyone at this point.
No ‘I’ in team: While Edsall acknowledged after the game that he needs to do a better job getting messages across to his team, it was interesting to see how much of the loss he put on players’ shoulders. He did not retreat from that stance Sunday. When talking about his Sunday meeting with players, Edsall said: “Who are the leaders of this team? If I have to get them ready to play every week, we’ve got the wrong guys. This is what I told them: ‘Who in this room is going to stand up and be the guy to get on people and get people going? Who wants that responsibility on their shoulders?’” And later in the teleconference Edsall suggested that some players may still be playing more for themselves than for the team. “We still have to get guys to get away from being individuals and understanding that they are playing for the name on the front of the jersey, not for the individual inside the jersey,” Edsall said. “That is something that we are still trying to get through.”
Where are the fans?: This is a common refrain for this program. The Terrapins saw large home crowds turn out for their first two games against marquee opponents. The reality check came Saturday, when 39,102 showed for the Temple game. Forget the fact that most understandably left during the awful on-field effort. When you get 39,102 for a home game, no one should wonder why Maryland often falls as far as they are allowed to fall in the ACC-affiliated bowl game pecking order. And it could happen again this season if the Terps don’t win the division.
Too much uniform hype?: Since Saturday, many fans have told me in e-mails that they have grown tired of the uniform hype. While it was cute in the beginning, they said, it’s turned the team into sort of a “carnival act.” One fan said it works at Oregon because the team wins. When the team doesn’t win, you run the risk of no one caring, or people poking fun at you. “Uniforms don’t win games,” one fan wrote. Maryland wanted attention from the uniforms. This will be interesting to follow as the Terrapins enter their difficult stretch of games in two weeks. Oh, and for those interested, the uniform Maryland will wear for the Towson game will be announced Wednesday via Edsall’s tweet.
Is this a rebuilding job?: The most interesting comment Edsall made after the Temple game was when he said this is all a process and things are not going to change overnight. It suggested that he was engaging in a reclamation project even though the Terrapins finished 9-4 last season and returned several key players. The comment surprised a lot of people. Perhaps the academic situation Edsall inherited was in need of a makeover. But it’s hard to look at the team that entered this season and think rebuilding. Maybe others disagree.
I encourage you to e-mail any thoughts, comments at prisbelle@washpost. Thanks.