- Associated Press - Tuesday, November 24, 2015

COLLEGE PARK — Winless under two coaches for well over two months, Maryland has one final opportunity for a feel-good moment Saturday at Rutgers.

Since beating USF on Sept. 19, the Terrapins have dropped their last eight games and are in danger of closing out the year without a conference victory.

Maryland (2-9, 0-7 Big Ten) blew an 18-point lead Saturday in a loss to visiting Indiana. Now, the Terrapins must beat Rutgers (4-7, 1-6 Big Ten) to avoid ending the year with their longest single-season skid since the 1967 team went 0-9.

“It’s our seniors’ last opportunity to go out and play as Terrapins,” interim coach Mike Locksley said. “We’re a little disappointed for not being able to send them out with a win at home, but this provides us with another opportunity.”

Maryland is 0-5 since Locksley took over for fired coach Randy Edsall on Oct. 11. The execution has been spotty, but Locksley has looked beyond that in assessing his players during the past six weeks.

“They had every opportunity to just lay down and quit, not show up,” he said. “To a man, since I took over, I never questioned our effort and the way we prepared. These guys have continued to fight for us.”

Thus far, it hasn’t translated to a victory. The Terrapins can only hope that changes on Saturday.

“It would definitely mean a lot,” junior Quinton Jefferson said. “Our seniors, they’ve been through a lot, so it would be good to send them out with a win. It’s only right.”

The coaching staff and players have endured plenty of wide-margin losses this season. After opening with a 50-21 win over Richmond, the Terrapins got a hint of things to come in a 21-point home loss to Bowling Green.

Then came the aforementioned 35-17 win over USF, followed by three consecutive defeats by a combined 92 points that led to Edsall’s dismissal.

The losing didn’t stop there.

“Great life lessons will be taken from this season,” Locksley said. “You can learn a lot from failure because it gives you the experiences that the next time you’re faced with them, you should be prepared.”

Locksley and his players would most certainly prefer never to go through something like this again. When he got the job, Locksley was told he’d be considered in the search for a new coach. The odds of that happening seem slim in light of his record, but many of his players seem to appreciate what he’s done.

Providing him with a victory at Rutgers would be a good way of saying thanks.
“We want to prove to everybody that he’s been pivotal in bringing us together since we lost Coach Edsall and prove to everybody that he’s taking care of business and we’re getting better,” sophomore linebacker Jalen Brooks said.

One thing Locksley still hasn’t determined for Saturday is who will be his team’s quarterback. Perry Hills is battling mononucleosis and Caleb Rowe was diagnosed with a concussion in the game against Indiana, leaving Shane Cockerille, who began the season as a fullback, to step in once Rowe exited the game.

If this is Locksley’s finale on the sideline, he intends to make it a memorable one — for his players.

“Our seniors have done a great job of leading us through some tough times, some tough losses,” he said. “We’re doing everything we can in our power to coach these guys and provide a game plan to allow them to go out the right way. They have our commitment as a staff and we have their commitment as players that we want to finish the job, and that is what we intend to do.”

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