The directive was imperative though counterintuitive.
Yet there the Maryland coaching staff was, imploring its players to move past an embarrassing loss by … pretending it didn’t matter?
“We took the mind-set that we were 0-0,” quarterback Chris Turner said. “It is a whole new season. We haven’t even started the ACC yet. We have a whole season ahead of us.”
After Saturday’s 35-27 victory over California, the rest of the Terrapins’ year looks vastly better even though tailback Da’Rel Scott is questionable for this week with a sprained left shoulder. The Terps’ outlook shifted from bleak to bold in less than four hours at Byrd Stadium. In the process, their attention changed from an ugly loss to Middle Tennessee a week earlier to the possibilities this fall still holds.
Yet their coach’s mind remains fixated on the program’s long-time bugaboo - steady play.
“I’m anxious to see how we come out and work this week,” Ralph Friedgen said. “We played very well for probably a quarter and a half, maybe a little bit more. … We have to develop a consistency. If we do that, we have a chance to have a good team. If we don’t, we won’t. It’s that simple.”
Just as there appeared to be little to build upon after two games except perhaps an improving rushing attack, the Terps suddenly look more than capable of causing headaches in the weeks ahead, starting with Saturday’s visit by Eastern Michigan (1-2).
That’s especially true of an offense responsible for manufacturing more points against a ranked opponent than it had in its first two games combined against unheralded opponents.
Turner’s superb day - 15-for-19 for 156 yards and two touchdowns - was the precise antidote required of a team seemingly stuck answering quarterback questions since the start of camp. If there was not full-fledged turmoil, there surely was a muddled picture when starter Jordan Steffy was injured in the opener and Turner struggled a week later.
If consistency is one thing forever eluding the Terps, stability under center is not far behind. But with Turner’s efficient outing, there’s a chance he and the offense finally are in sound shape.
“Sometimes it takes a team a little time to get rolling, especially on offense,” tight end Dan Gronkowski said. “With a new offense, it finally started clicking this week. We just have to be efficient. The plays are out there to be made. I think if we keep on doing what we can, we’ll be a lot better, and we’ll keep it going, and we’ll be scoring the 50 points a game we should be scoring.”
That could be more difficult if Scott is forced to miss time. The sophomore rushed for 407 yards in the first three games and was headed for his third straight 100-yard performance when he was slammed down in the third quarter Saturday.
Scott’s possible absence should not be a constitute a major obstacle to continued progress - especially if the Terps are serious about building on the second start to their season.
“You would hope that would happen,” Friedgen said. “I’m going to continue to preach to them that they’ve got to get better regardless of who we’re playing. Hopefully, they’ll take stock in that and try to get better and improve each and every day.”
Notes - Friedgen remains uncertain whether he will open up the kicker’s job after Obi Egekeze missed his fifth straight field goal to start the season. Walk-ons Nick Wallace and Mike Barbour would be the likely possibilities to take over if a change occurred. …
Friedgen said he wasn’t sure whether defensive end Mack Frost (knee) will be available this week. …
Wide receiver LaQuan Williams (foot) will be X-rayed today. …
Cornerback Richard Taylor (lateral collateral ligament) will undergo an MRI exam today. If he requires surgery, he likely will be done for the season. If not, Friedgen expects him to miss four weeks.