TALLAHASSEE – After the carnage had ended Saturday, the Maryland football players showered, dressed and grabbed their boxed dinners for the road. Some met family members outside the visitor’s locker room at Doak Campbell Stadium and kissed them goodbye. Others walked straight to the bus. Their heads were down and their stares were blank and they were thinking hard about what just happened.
Soon after, the Terrapins starting thumbing their phones and sending tweets into cyberspace, maybe reassurance for a stunned fan base, maybe catharsis for the players themselves. After eighth-ranked Florida State annihilated the No. 25 Terrapins, 63-0, they talked about staying together and rising back up. They promised to learn from their mistakes and swore to never let that happen again. “Live and learn,” wrote cornerback Dexter McDougle, who made the trip for moral support despite a season-ending shoulder injury and instead received a sideline view of the madness, “we gonna bounce back no question.”
In the locker room, Coach Randy Edsall immediately spoke of moving on. He, his assistant coaches and his players will watch the game film tomorrow. They will agonize over mistakes and lament lost opportunities. Then the projection screen will go blank and the attention will turn to Virginia, which arrives at Byrd Stadium next Saturday.
“Usually when teams lose by that much, they kind of get off course,” linebacker Cole Farrand said. “But we have to stay on course. We got games we got to win, we’re trying to get to a bowl this year, we can still accomplish all we want to accomplish. I think we’ll do that.”
In practical terms, the worst loss of Edsall’s career means little more than one tick in the wrong column and a predictable removal from the top 25 rankings, which any defeat would have brought anyway. Perhaps if Maryland mustered more of a fight, the gorge between the conference’s elite and its subordinates might not have been so pronounced. But one game into their final ACC schedule, the Terps are right where many expected them to be: far behind Florida State, still a contender for third place in the Atlantic Division.
Even without C.J. Brown (concussion) under center – his status is uncertain, and given Maryland’s reluctance to divulge the status of any non-surgical injuries, he should remain as much until Thursday’s injury report is released – the Terps should still be favored against a listless Virginia team that just lost by 21 points at home to Ball State. After that, they travel to Wake Forest before hosting third-ranked Clemson. Entering their second bye at the end of this month with bowl eligibility is perfectly realistic, provided the Florida State drubbing doesn’t linger into the week. Channel that anger, Farrand said, rather than let it consume them.
“I think we’ll be able to [move on],” nose tackle Darius Kilgo said. “There’s nothing we can do about it. It’s happened. The best thing for us to do is look forward to the future and work harder to reach the goals that we want to reach as a team. There’s no reason to ponder upon a loss like this. The best thing is to look forward.”
What else option is there? Linger on Florida State’s nine touchdowns, or its 614 yards, or its 33 first downs that gashed a Maryland defense once ranked among the top 10 nationally? Mull over the offensive ineptitude, which got 33 total rushing yards, just six combined from Albert Reid, C.J. Brown and Brandon Ross?
“They know they didn’t play well,” Edsall said. “Those kids are smart enough to understand. We will look at it and move on. We can’t dwell on it. This was one game of five that we played. This one is over with. We will learn from it just like the other ones and now we move onto the next one.”
Losing in this fashion, embarrassing and without mercy, can cripple teams. Now, with less than seven days left until the final border-state rivalry between Maryland and Virginia as ACC teams, the Terps need to forget before they fall asleep on Sunday night. So they boarded the bus and drove to the airport, with each second moving further and further away.
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