One by one the weighted yellow flags fluttered to the ground, and each time Dexter McDougle’s arms raised higher and higher in disbelief, the stream of penalties a constant reminder of mental mistakes or blown coverage.
McDougle, a junior cornerback for Maryland, was the first to admit that Saturday’s season opener against William & Mary was one of the roughest games of his career. Fundamental errors, he said, caused his three pass interference penalties against the Tribe, including one in the first quarter that extended a William & Mary drive and led to a field goal.
“I honestly didn’t expect any of them,” McDougle said of the pass interference calls. “I like to play physical, that’s the type of corner I am. I guess some calls just didn’t go my way. I kept playing, good things started happening. I got beat on a double move later on, but that was just fundamental stuff I should have been paying attention to.”
This week, the Terps face Temple, a 41-0 winner in its opener against Villanova. The Owls put up 362 yards of offense on the Wildcats, but just 61 came through the air. Maryland Coach Randy Edsall spoke during his weekly media conference Tuesday about the importance of taking away the deep ball.
“It gets back to fundamentals and technique,” Edsall said. “It is something we have been working on. Sometimes it just takes somebody to get beat in the game to get them to get their focus where it needs to be.
“When you go out to practice and go out for the games, you cannot take anything for granted, especially at the corner position. We will work on the deep ball today and we will work on fundamentals playing the deep ball and being in position. I will expect all of our defensive backs to play much better this week as compared to last week.”
Temple ran all over the Terps in last season’s 38-7 win at Byrd Stadium, including 144 yards and a school-record five touchdowns by running back Bernard Pierce. But Coach Steve Addazio recognized during the Big East media teleconference his team’s need to “call more throws.”
“That’s my fault,” Addazio said. “We get in this situation sometimes where we get up, and I want to run the ball and burn the clock. We need to be more balanced.”
If Addazio’s words prove prophetic, then McDougle, who tied for the team high with three interceptions and led the Terps with six pass breakups last season, could see plenty more looks against Temple at Lincoln Financial Field. As far as the junior, who moved to boundary cornerback position this season and anticipated an increased flurry of targets, Edsall had some words of encouragement after McDougle’s struggles.
“He says he knows I’m capable,” McDougle said. “He knows the type of player I am, just said to stick what I know.”