The Washington Times - November 29, 2008, 09:03PM

When I last spoke with Darrius Heyward-Bey a few weeks ago, he briefly mused about the physical toll a season takes on a player before moving on to more colorful matters.

Like how much he likes the television show “Heroes.”

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Heyward-Bey couldn’t play the hero yesterday, not with a strained calf that kept him sidelined in spite of enough optimism to take him on the trip in case he improved in time to play.

But let’s face it: Heyward-Bey’s absence did not lead to a 28-21 loss to No. 20 Boston College.

Torrey Smith (115 yards) and Danny Oquendo (111 yards) became the first Maryland receiving tandem since Geroy Simon and Jermaine Lewis (in 1995 against Florida State) to top 100 yards each in a game.

This was on Maryland’s running game, or lack thereof. It was on an offensive line coach Ralph Friedgen conceded couldn’t block anybody.

It was on a lack of balance.

“We’re running in some situations where we should be successful,” Friedgen said. “I knew we were going to have to throw it to run it. I knew it. There was a point there I mentioned to [offensive coordinator] James [Franklin] ‘We’re going to have to run it some, or these guys are just going to be teeing off on us.’ He came out and tried to do that in the second half and he really didn’t get anything.

“It’s disheartening, because coming into this year I thought we had a pretty good offensive line. When they play, we’re pretty good. They just don’t always play.”

So there it is, a season in a nutshell. A defense that was frankly undermanned – especially up front – doing what it can to keep things reasonable. A passing game that was usually decent, on occasion really good and at a few times difficult to watch. And a running game dictated by an underachieving, veteran-laden offensive line.

It’s easy to point to Heyward-Bey’s absence as a culprit for a seven-point loss. But in truth, it barely changed the game at all, and Maryland encountered the exact same problems that plagued it in its other conference losses en route to yet another setback.

Patrick Stevens