The usually calm voice of Coach Bobby Ross was filled with anger and frustration yesterday as he discussed his Maryland football team's blundering 31-21 loss to West Virginia Saturday night at Byrd Stadium.
After reviewing the film of the debacle, Ross said almost every starter will have to compete anew for his job in practice this week.
He indicated he was thoroughly dissatisfied with the offensive performance and not much more pleased with the defense. He said if it wasn't for risking injury the team would scrimmage this week.
"I'm going to sit down with the offense and show them the film myself," Ross said.
"When I came off the field I thought maybe we didn't have a good game plan, but we had a hell of a game plan. We were doing the same things we did last year, and that's what makes it so bad.
"I thought at the beginning of the season we had good leadership, but right now, I question the leadership because it's the seniors who are breaking down.
"They have to lead by example and they're not."
Ross, however, refused to criticize players by name. The Terrapins' offense came into the game eighth in the country. Against West Virginia, before 54,715--the second-largest crowd in Terrapins' history--Maryland (1-1) took a 10-0 lead in the first quarter on Boomer Esiason's 28-yard touchdown pass to Greg Hill and Jess Atkinson's 43-yard field goal. But both scoring drives were minimal and were set up by interceptions by Clarence Baldwin.
After that, the Terrapins' offense failed. Esiason threw two interceptions, although Ross said they weren't totally his fault because receivers weren't where they should have been on timing patterns.
Several passes were dropped or just plain missed, including a potential touchdown pass to Hill, who dropped the ball at the one with Maryland ahead, 7-0. In addition, the protection failed to recognize a defensive stunt that would sack Esiason and bruise his right shoulder. "I wish I could tell you why these things happened," Ross said.
Not all of Ross' criticism was directed toward the offense. "The defense missed too many darned tackles," he said. "We were too soft in the middle going around blocks. We had a player or two let up also, which we weren't used to seeing happen."
It all points to an especially tough practice week for the Terrapins, who will play Pitt at Byrd Stadium next week. "This will be a character week," Ross said. "We'll find out what kind of people we have in our program. It will be competitive every day. I don't know if any position is secure."
When asked if that included Esiason, who completed 23 of 42 passes for 254 yards, with two touchdowns and two interceptions, Ross said, "Not totally. Boomer didn't play an error-free game, but I came away feeling that he played damn hard. He played hurt and I have a lot of admiration for him. "
The defeat may have cost the Terrapins a chance to be on regional television next week. Before the game, CBS television had contacted Dick Dull, director of athletics at Maryland, and officials from the University of Pittsburgh and asked for telephone numbers where they could be reached yesterday.
Dull said he was not contacted by CBS yesterday, and the network later announced it will televise Appalachian State at The Citadel, Tulane at Kentucky, Oklahoma State at Texas A&M and Ohio State at Iowa.