The 10-month-old Randy Edsall era found rock bottom early Saturday evening, when his Maryland team trudged off a muddy football field that was as tarnished as the Terrapins’ season after a 28-17 loss to Boston College.
Of all the depressing defeats authored by the Terrapins over the past decade — including consecutive losses to Middle Tennessee in 2008 and 2009 and this season’s blowout loss to Temple — Saturday’s result could stand as the worst.
Unlike Temple, which is one win away from bowl eligibility, Boston College limped into Saturday’s game without a victory against a Football Bowl Subdivision team. But behind Rolandan Finch’s 243 rushing yards, the most in an ACC game this season, the Eagles dominated Maryland on a near-freezing, dreary afternoon before what appeared to be no more than 10,000 fans at Byrd Stadium.
When asked to evaluate his ability to maximize the potential of his team this season, Edsall said, “Ultimately, I am the guy who is responsible for this.”
During a nearly nine-minute news conference, Edsall emphasized that he will continue to search for answers and made eight references to game or practice film. But as Edsall told his team afterward, the Terrapins (2-6, 1-4) have no margin for error because they must win their final four games, including three away from Byrd Stadium, to qualify for a bowl game.
The Terrapins have been particularly hard hit by injuries and have faced a more arduous schedule than they encountered last season. But with several key players back from a team that finished 9-4 under Coach Ralph Friedgen, few expected struggles to this extent.
When asked to characterize his level of personal frustration this season, Edsall said he needs to evaluate the film to determine the best way he can help “these young men get wins, to reward them for the hard work they are putting in. Right now, they are working, but they don’t have a lot to show for it.”
Later Edsall added, “The frustration I have is what button, what word can I say to make some of these things turn around.”
Saturday’s game, which included a combined six turnovers, will be remembered for a torrent of rain, snow, missed tackles and dropped passes. Maryland’s performance best encapsulated a season’s worth of on-field struggles and apparent fan apathy and frustration.
The announced crowd was 29,945, the lowest at Maryland since the final game of the Ron Vanderlinden era in 2000. The parka-wearing fans braved near freezing rain, intermittent snow and 35-degree temperatures, the second-coldest Maryland game played since 2000. The weather and poor records of both teams made for a less-than-coveted game ticket; before the game, two lower-level tickets were offered on StubHub.com, an online vendor of already-purchased tickets, for 1 cent each.
“When that ball is all muddy and sandy, it is really hard to throw and catch,” Maryland quarterback Danny O’Brien said. “I think it affected us a little bit. But Boston College was playing in the same elements that we were, so we are not going to hang the loss on that.”
It was a debacle from the opening kickoff, which Nick Ferrara’s kick veered out of bounds. Ferrara also missed two field goals. Neither quarterback — starter C.J. Brown or O’Brien, who entered early in the second quarter — was particularly effective while the game was still up for grabs. And the defense looked overmatched against a Boston College offense that entered the game ranked 107th nationally in yards per game. Boston College’s 372 rushing yards marked the first time it eclipsed 300 in game since 2002.
Finch, who had never before run for 100 yards in a game, amassed 152 rushing yards by halftime. Against Maryland, Finch nearly equaled his season total of 266. His total of 243 Saturday was the fifth highest in an FBS game this season.
The Eagles (2-6, 1-4) won the game despite completing just five passes for 32 yards and committing four turnovers. One Maryland highlight occurred with less than seven minutes remaining, when O’Brien evaded the pass rush and found wide receiver Adrian Coxson for a 55-yard touchdown.
By game’s end, flurries continues to fall, the Maryland band played on and only small pockets of fans remained in the stadium to express displeasure at a season gone sour.
In an unusual close to the postgame news conference, an unidentified woman in a Maryland shirt, who a school official said was not a credentialed media member, requested the microphone, told Edsall she was from his home town of Glen Rock, Pa., and asked what it was like for his players to be booed at home.
“I don’t ever hear any of that,” Edsall said. “To me, as a coach, you put the blinders on. Your whole focus and attention is just on your team and that’s all it is.”