Maryland’s ACC title chances are basically kaput. The Terrapins’ bowl hopes are on life support at best.
The Terps (2-6, 1-3 ACC) have lost five of their last six games, falling in an assortment of turnover-aided ways. And with a bye week to regroup for a Nov. 7 game at N.C. State, the time to start thinking about 2010 is near.
“This is tough times right now,” coach Ralph Friedgen said. “We have a young team, and obviously they’re disappointed. We’re disappointed, frustrated. We’ve been close in every game but one. We’ve played hard in every game. I think we’d obviously like to look at some kids that we think can help us win and think have a future. To me, if it’s close or even, you have to play the younger guy and try to get better.”
Of course, Maryland already is receiving glimpses of its future. Ten true freshmen have played, the most in Friedgen’s nine-year tenure, and tailback Caleb Porzel started in Saturday’s 17-13 loss at Duke.
The Terps might not use another new true freshman this season, though cornerback Dexter McDougle and quarterback Danny O’Brien are candidates to play if injuries surface. And while Friedgen isn’t giving up on collecting victories this season, it’s clear he knows November can be used to evaluate the future.
“Just knowing my nature, I want to win,” Friedgen said. “I’m going to do everything I can to win. If it’s even-steven, I’m going to play the young guy.”
Ben Pooler waited a long time to play nearly an entire game - and the torrential rain suited him perfectly.
The sophomore linebacker filled in for Demetrius Hartsfield (broken hand) in Saturday’s loss and savored the opportunity to perform in the muck while rolling up a team-high 13 tackles.
“As a kid, you watch football, and that’s what they show,” Pooler said. “Rain, mud, you hit somebody and you slide. It’s a whole childhood thing.”
Pooler played sparingly last year before tearing an ACL and undergoing surgery in late October. He played 17 snaps in a loss to Virginia earlier this month, then got 67 plays against Duke as his surgery anniversary neared.
Pooler won’t complain about the chance to play. But things do feel a bit different the day after logging so much work.
“I feel like I got hit by a car,” Pooler said.
One of the bye week priorities is getting some players back for the final month. The results are likely to be mixed.
Tailback Gary Douglas (shoulder) practiced noncontact Wednesday, increasing the chances he’ll return to the backfield mix next week. Guard Bennett Fulper (shoulder) underwent an MRI exam this week, and while the results weren’t back, Friedgen said the injury probably will require an operation.
Meanwhile, tailback Da’Rel Scott (left radius) and Hartsfield are on track to return for the Nov. 21 game at Florida State.