Randy Edsall was in a foul mood. After re-watching the film of Temple’s 31-point dismantling of Maryland at Byrd Stadium last September, the Maryland football coach became angry.
Embarrassing. Disappointing. Bitter. Any number of negative adjectives would suffice to describe what he saw.
Maryland’s players felt the same way, and one year later, the Terrapins have revenge on their minds.
“One of the biggest things we’re looking at is payback,” said Maryland linebacker Demetrius Hartsfield, who tweeted a similar sentiment earlier this week. “We’re going to do everything we can this week to make sure it won’t happen again.”
What happened last season was, in Edsall’s words at the time, “unacceptable.” Buoyed by confidence from a season-opening win over Miami and undefeated in five previous meetings against the Owls, the Terrapins instead found themselves down 31-0 by halftime.
Temple running back Bernard Pierce, now a member of the Baltimore Ravens, had 149 rushing yards and a school-record five touchdowns, including three in the first quarter. Maryland allowed its first blocked punt since 1999, and was showered with boos as it exited the field.
“I think our kids really came out and played really hard,” Temple defensive coordinator Chuck Heater said. “I’m not sure what was going on with respect to Maryland, but I know we had success and got going. Our offense really ran the ball well. All of a sudden they start to get off their game plan. All those dynamics go into the game.
“But that was that day, and this is a new year, a new day, and we know we’re going to face a team that’s very energized and [has] an attitude of really coming at you.”
Reflecting on that late September afternoon with angry focus and not burdened frustration, the Terrapins are as motivated as ever to flip the script Saturday at Lincoln Financial Field.
“It’s definitely a focus,” said offensive lineman Justin Gilbert, who did not play against Temple but watched as Maryland’s offense mustered only a fourth-quarter touchdown and 240 total yards. “They came in here last year, and it’s pretty embarrassing. That’s a big focus this year. It’s us against them. The guys who played last year are really anxious to get back at them. We’re going up to their field, and we’re putting in as much work as we can to come out with a ‘W.’ ”
That work begins with stopping Temple’s ground game. Pierce has moved on to the NFL, but 5-foot-5 senior Matt Brown is a shifty running back who had 145 yards on 19 carries, one touchdown and 270 all-purpose yards against Villanova last weekend. Montel Harris, Boston College’s all-time leading rusher who transferred to Temple earlier this year, is day-to-day with a hamstring injury. In two previous games against the Terrapins, Harris had 258 rushing yards and two touchdowns.
Save the occasional blown coverage, last weekend the Terrapins’ defense excelled in its first game since installing coordinator Brian Stewart’s 3-4 scheme. William & Mary finished with 229 yards of total offense in Maryland’s 7-6 win, and never had a drive longer than 39 yards. Twice, the Tribe took over deep in Terrapins territory after intercepting freshman quarterback Perry Hills. Both times they settled for field goals.
After reviewing the film of last year’s Temple game, Edsall singled out Maryland’s inability to stop the Owls’ running game and play-action passes. Owls quarterback Chester Stewart was perfect in nine pass attempts.
“Since I know the guys, it wasn’t a great thing to look at,” Brian Stewart said. “I’m pissed that it happened, score-wise, and how they went about their business, just running the ball on us. But all I can do is remind the players now of how they felt then, so they won’t feel like that when we drive back from Philly.
“I don’t think anyone wants to lose any games, I just think they understand that they’re going to be physical, and we’re going to be physical. That’s been the message this whole week.”
That, and a message of desired vengeance. Hartsfield believes that last season the Terrapins might have overlooked Temple, long billed as a doormat, and consequently paid the price. This year, he said, Maryland has prepared as if the Owls are “one of the best teams in the nation.”
“It’s definitely something you remember,” Hartsfield said. “You try to leave last season behind. The way they beat us last year was embarrassing. You don’t want that to happen. We’re going up to Temple with the mind-set that we’re not leaving without a win.”