The Maryland football team arrived at Gossett Field House on Sunday morning furious and focused. The Terrapins worked out in silence, the usual whooping and hollering absent from the weight room. The only noise was the metal clang of dropping weights.
That afternoon’s practice brought more intensity, an understanding of the business that lies ahead. The coaches were the quietest they have been all season, defensive lineman Zeke Riser said Tuesday, because they wanted the players to rally around one another.
On Saturday against Florida State, the Terrapins suffered their worst loss in two decades, so they boarded the bus battered, stewed on the plane flight home and then, once a new game week dawned and the attention turned to Saturday’s game against Virginia, tried to forget.
“I’ve been on really good teams and really bad teams,” said Riser, a graduate-student transfer from Houston. “Whenever guys are taking losses hard, that’s a really good sign. If no one cares about losing, especially the way we did, that’s when you have a problem. But that game meant a lot to a lot of guys. That’s a good sign looking forward to Virginia this week.
“It’s definitely more difficult than some other losses, but I think that if we would have lost by, say, a point or a field goal, that probably would have been tougher. But again, we don’t have any time to sit there and worry about Florida State, because we’re already moving on to Virginia.”
Maryland’s players and coaches insisted Tuesday that they aren’t altering their methods even after the bruising 63-0 loss to the Seminoles. Nothing changed after four straight wins, the program’s first 4-0 start since 2001, so why should anything change now, after the biggest blowout loss of Coach Randy Edsall’s career?
“It’s no different from when you win,” Edsall said. “You go through the film, show them what they did right, show them what they did wrong, and you put it behind you. It’s the same thing when you lose. Every week has to be the same. That’s what we try to do. We have a procedure, a process in place that we always go through and hey, things happen. You move forward and that’s what you do. You keep it.”
So the coaches kept quiet, allowing the players to hold one another accountable after a sobering film session that dissected every little mistake. They watched as Florida State topped 600 yards, as quarterback Jameis Winston turned Maryland’s top 10 defense into little more than helpless tackling dummies, and as Doak Campbell Stadium emptied well before the final gun because, well, what else was there to watch?
“You could tell, as soon as we came in on Sunday,” center Sal Conaboy said. “A lot of guys were talking [about]: ‘We have to move past this. It’s a new week.’ That really carried onto the practice field. Guys got after guys. It was a good session.
“Everyone knew they had to work. I don’t know if everyone was getting their anger out of what, but it was a really good session. Everyone knew we had to focus.”
The Terps enter their ACC home opener on Saturday at 4-1, and with games against Virginia (2-3) and at Wake Forest (3-3) on the immediate horizon, they have a legitimate shot at attaining bowl eligibility before No. 3 Clemson arrives at Byrd Stadium on Oct. 26.
“I had my fair share of losses throughout my football career,” linebacker Yannik Cudjoe-Virgil said. “It definitely sucks, definitely one of my worst. It is what it is. You can only grow from it, just move on. That’s the biggest thing, the hardest part. But starting today we’re going out with the mentality that the game never happened. We’ll just continue on our journey.”