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One wild ride nears its end for Maryland’s seniors

Saturday marks last game at Byrd

- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 3, 2011

Quintin McCree's five years at Maryland featured just a little bit of everything. So did Trenton Hughes'. So, really, did anyone else part of the Terrapins' erratic run in recent seasons.

The fifth-year seniors who will play their final game at Byrd Stadium on Saturday when Maryland (2-6, 1-4 ACC) plays host to Virginia (5-3, 2-2) have seen a lot. Probably more than they ever thought they would encounter.

"There's a lots of ups and downs," McCree said. "A lot of balance, really. A lot of downs. A lot of ups."

Balance in total, perhaps, but hardly balance in practice. These players entered this season with a 25-26 record since entering the program, but only one year within two games of .500.

This season is the latest wild fluctuation in the fortunes of the program that has annually vacillated between winning and losing seasons since 2005. The Terps have swung from a mildly disappointing 8-5 in 2008 to a disastrous 2-10 the next season to 9-4 a year ago, only to regress in coach Randy Edsall's first season.

The instability isn't confined merely to results.

McCree has had three receivers coaches, including one whose stint was measured in weeks rather than months. Hughes is playing for his third defensive coordinator. The Terps have their fourth special teams coordinator in five years.

It seems like an utterly zany ride is about to end. In the midst of it all, it probably is, but for less obvious reasons.

"I know that sounds funny dealing with everything, but I don't think it's ridiculous," defensive tackle Maurice Hampton said. "Guys are just having trouble buying in. Stop trying to tell grown men - coaches - what you think is better. It's been like that every year I've been here. You have some younger guy coming in and saying 'I don't like this scheme they're running.' Who are you?"

Hampton emphasized his observation was not specific to the transition from former coach Ralph Friedgen to Edsall, whose struggles in his first season have been a prevailing storyline as the Terps have dropped six of their past seven.

Of course, Friedgen's firing and Edsall's hiring and the uncertainty in between was the biggest jolt the program has absorbed during a five-year run during which the Terps weren't always relevant but rarely boring. Edsall, with his repeated emphasis on consistency, would no doubt prefer a smoother, steadier future.

"I think Edsall's going to do that," Hampton said. "The guys here who he's trying to recruit and the type of attitude and atmosphere he's trying to build here, all this character he's building up, he's going to get the right guys here. He's going to get the right talent here. He's going to get the guys that are going to want to go in his footsteps because he needs guys who are going to fall in line behind him."

A month remains for the seniors to try to salvage something of their final season. A bowl, however improbable, is still a possibility. But Saturday remains a symbolic last stop at Byrd for a group presented with plenty of opportunities to mature during their careers.

"It's been a big ride," Hughes said.

Notes: Edsall said suspended defensive end David Mackall will not be back this season. "He's suspended indefinitely," Edsall said. "Indefinitely could be a long time." Mackall started the first seven games, then came off the bench last week after he was late to a meeting the morning of Terps' 28-17 loss to Boston College. Marcus Whitfield will start in his place against Virginia.

Edsall said wide receiver Kevin Dorsey will start after a two-week absence because of injury, while offensive lineman Justin Gilbert will get his first work of the season. Freshman Makinton Dorleant suffered a torn ACL in practice Wednesday. Dorleant has not played this season.

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