Maryland's arduous November continues Saturday as No. 10 Florida State at Byrd Stadium, a meeting that could both serve as the Terrapins' last home game and clinch a losing season for the quarterback-starved team.
It would be a second losing season in as many years under coach Randy Edsall and the third in four years overall. Yet Edsall considers it a bittersweet day for 17 seniors who endured a tumultuous time in the program.
"They might not get all the wins they might have liked, but the one thing they should feel good about and be proud of is they've really laid the foundation for what this program is going to be about going forward," Edsall said.
That's certainly what several veterans hope for Maryland (4-6, 2-4 ACC), which has dropped four straight games and are the last impediment between Florida State and an Atlantic Division title.
If it is a hard-luck year in College Park, it is not nearly as miserable as the 2-10 debacle of a season ago. A significant exodus followed Edsall's first year, and it has played a role in Maryland's limited experience at some positions this season.
Those who remained did not thrive quite as much as they would have liked. But they have enjoyed this season a bit more while trying to construct for the future.
"We've definitely set a bar for the level of commitment we have for this program," right tackle Justin Gilbert said. "I see it with all the other guys. We have freshmen who love being here as much as we do. It's just something I put a lot on coach Edsall, making guys like to be here and making guys want to play as hard as they can and making this program better."
The freshmen who enjoy their place with the Terps also have had the chance to enjoy a spot on the field. Maryland's used 15 true freshmen, and they figure to be strong part of the group Edsall builds around in the years to come.
Still, Edsall credits older players who persevered for helping to make some progress this season despite a litany of injuries.
"Fighting through these circumstances and all this adversity has showed the true character of this team and the seniors, and the young guys who went out and played their butts off even off they were getting on the yellow cheese bus a few months ago," tight end Devonte Campbell said. "They stepped out there and were ready to play."
None has impressed more than Stefon Diggs, who established himself as one of the ACC's most electric players — at least until an ankle injury shelved him for Saturday's loss at Clemson.
His status (along with freshman tailback Wes Brown's availability) for Saturday remains uncertain. What's obvious, though, is how valuable he can be for Maryland in the future.
"As long as you have Stefon Diggs on your team, you're going to be good," defensive lineman A.J. Francis said. "That kid's unbelievable."
Diggs' future deeds will do little to provide present-day solace to a group with an 11-14 mark over the past four years in Byrd. There have been highlights, such as a 2010 defeat of N.C. State to close the regular season, but more than a few ugly losses as well.
The chance, however improbable, at adding a final victory is appealing to the group set to be honored Saturday.
"I'm just looking forward to seeing where this program can go in the future," Francis said. "If we can win this game this weekend, it can give it a jet pack for sure."
Notes — Edsall said practice performance last week led him to use kicker Brad Craddock instead of Brendan Magistro. "Last week, Brendan wasn't very good and Brad was outstanding during practice and [we] saw things that we decided to go with him," Edsall said.
Craddock and Magistro are competing for the kicking job this week, and Edsall added Craddock and Nathan Renfro are in a competition for Saturday's punting duties.
© Copyright 2016 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.