PHILADELPHIA — The most improbable part of Maryland’s season to date isn’t its 2-0 record.
It’s the befuddling juxtaposition of the Terrapins committing four turnovers in consecutive games and yet capturing both of them.
For as much growth as Maryland displayed in Saturday’s 36-27 defeat of Temple, there’s little question a penchant for giveaways eventually will lead to a change in outcomes.
After all, Maryland won just one time between 1999 and 2011 while committing four turnovers. The past two weeks surely are an anomaly and not a bizarre new formula for success.
“We’ll continue to work on ball security and make the kids be more aware,” coach Randy Edsall said. “I told the team [Sunday] we can’t continue to have this many turnovers and really expect to win.”
Of course, the errors were to be expected with this bunch. Maryland is starting a true freshman at quarterback. Two of the three tailbacks to see time in the first week just arrived on campus this summer. So did the team’s kickoff and punt returner.
Sure enough, true freshmen account for all eight of the Terps’ turnovers. Quarterback Perry Hills has four, but his three interceptions came in the opener. His most noticeable error Saturday was a lost fumble on a sack.
“It’s definitely going to happen, like last game,” Hills said. “You just have to learn from it and not make the same mistake twice. You just have to watch film and put it behind you. It’s over. You can’t let it affect your next game.”
Or even the next play.
Well-regarded freshman Stefon Diggs muffed a punt in the fourth quarter to hand Temple possession inside the Maryland 20. The Terps subsequently blocked an Owls field goal attempt, but it still was the newcomer’s first blatant miscue.
The next time Diggs touched the ball was a 38-yard reception on a third down to extend a drive capped three plays later with a game-sealing touchdown.
“I made a mistake,” Diggs said. “A lot of us make mistakes. But we are freshmen. Things are going to happen. It’s all about when adversity hits and how you bounce back from that.”
The youthful foibles weren’t entirely confined to offense. Maryland continued to play without three of its top six defensive backs, and its true freshmen in the secondary were targeted in the second half.
Temple’s C.J. Hammond slipped past freshman safety Sean Davis on a long touchdown. Later, Owls receiver Jalen Fitzpatrick juked freshman safety Anthony Nixon in the open field on the way to a 35-yard touchdown.
“The offensive coordinators we play, they get paid,” defensive lineman A.J. Francis said. “They know what they’re doing. They’re going to go after the young guys because they don’t have as much experience. A lot of times mistakes are made and we just have to fight through them.”
Maryland expects to get safety Matt Robinson (shoulder) and cornerback Isaac Goins (illness) back when Connecticut (1-1) visits Byrd Stadium on Saturday. That should fortify the secondary, Davis’ work as a regular the past two games should eventually prove beneficial.
There aren’t as many offensive reinforcements on the way back, so Hills and Diggs and tailback Wes Brown (two second-half fumbles Saturday) could endure their share of miscues in the weeks to come.
Unlike victories in spite of high turnover counts, that was to be expected all along.
“You’re going to have that sometimes with young kids,” Edsall said.
Notes: Francis became the first Maryland player since at least 2000 to have a sack, fumble recovery and blocked kick in the same game. Only six Terps have managed all three in a season during that span. … Edsall said offensive lineman Josh Cary (knee) made the trip to Temple as an emergency option and expects the junior to return to the two-deep as a reserve this week. Cary started nine games last season.