Maryland’s first loss of the season was a stumble.
Its second, Saturday’s 38-7 setback against Temple, was a plunge into a ravine.
And the Terrapins will look quite a bit different next week when they play host to Towson and try to avoid a third defeat.
Safety Matt Robinson was lost for the season with a shoulder injury, and linebacker Darin Drakeford and defensive tackle Andre Monroe are likely shelved for this week with sprained ankles.
Meanwhile, coach Randy Edsall said suspended wide receivers Quintin McCree and Ronnie Tyler will return after missing the past two games.
The reinstatement of the two seniors was arguably the best thing to happen to the Terps (1-2) on an otherwise abysmal weekend that included the largest margin of defeat suffered by an ACC program against a school from outside the six automatic qualifying BCS leagues since 2004.
“All around, it was a total team loss,” defensive tackle Joe Vellano said.
Was it ever.
The offense couldn’t remain on the field, producing Maryland’s smallest time of possession (18:59) since the 2002 season opener. The defense couldn’t tackle, an unsettling performance for a team with a coach who stresses fundamentals and discipline above all else. And the Terps had a punt blocked for the first time since 1999.
All those problems - and an increasingly disinterested fanbase symbolized by an announced crowd of 39,102 at Byrd Stadium that never appeared that big and was far smaller by game’s end - remain for a team in personnel flux just three games into the season.
Robinson was the Terps’ leading tackler, a reflection both of his own playing style and the problems Maryland’s front seven has endured to date. Edsall said Robinson will be eligible for a hardship waiver and have three years of eligibility remaining.
“He’s a tough kid,” Edsall said. “He’s the kind of guy I like. He went out yesterday, was hurt and wanted to play. He’ll be missed. The good thing is, we’ll still have him for three more years. I need to find more Matt Robinsons. The game’s important to him.”
Edsall declined to say who would replace the sophomore in the starting lineup, though backup Austin Walker will be considered.
It is clearer how the Terps will handle the anticipated absences of Drakeford and Monroe. Drakeford missed the Sept. 17 game with an ankle injury, and the Terps started Lorne Goree at middle linebacker and shifted Demetrius Hartsfield to the weak side. Edsall said senior Maurice Hampton, who played extensively Saturday, would start against Towson.
Monroe made his first career start Saturday after wresting a job away from junior A.J. Francis.
The Terps’ offense, which managed only 240 yards Saturday, should get a boost with the return of McCree and Tyler. Both started in the season-opening defeat of Miami, with Tyler catching a touchdown pass and McCree collecting a career-best seven receptions.
Both wideouts were suspended for a violation of team rules Sept. 15. Tyler was charged with second-degree assault that day. Campus police said McCree was present for the incident that prompted Tyler’s arrest, though McCree was not charged with anything.
“They’re back with us,” Edsall said. “They’ll be starting this week. I sat down and told them what their expectations are. They know exactly where they stand and how I feel. I told them, ‘You’re getting a second chance, and there won’t be a third chance. Don’t let yourselves down, don’t let your families down and don’t let me down.’ “