Monday, November 05, 2007

It could be worse

It might be hard to see things that way at the moment, but things could be worse. Anyone who was around for the Mark Duffner era and saw that horror up close will know what I mean. It is possible that this team could end the season on a six game losing streak. A pissed off Boston College comes to town this Saturday and then Maryland must travel to Tallahassee to play nemesis Florida State. Closing out the season is a game against the resurgent NC State Wolfpack who have now won three games in a row and have some hope of making a bowl game. It isn't an easy way to finish up what has become a tortuous season.

Injuries have certainly derailed this team but they are not the only culprit. Academic problems caused the Terps to lose at least four players (Josh Portis, Jared Gaither, Brandon Nixon and Barrod Heggs) that could be very useful for what ails this team. A quarterback who can elude the pass rush and make plays with his legs, two offensive tackles who have significant experience and a proven pass rushing defensive end. Those things would be pretty useful right now.

Two of the last three losses have been very competitive and could have easily turned into two wins for Maryland instead of two losses. That would make pulling out one more win and a bowl game a very realistic possibility with the three remaining games. Since Maryland dropped both those games it makes a bowl appearance very unlikely. Just as Maryland got some great breaks last season to go 9-4 and win their bowl game this year the breaks have gone against the Terps. The close losses and injuries that Maryland avoided last season have come back with a vengeance this year. About the only thing Friedgen can hope for now is that his team continues to play hard in the unlikely event they can win a few games and get a bowl bid.

I'll get to review the game tonight since I don't get ESPNU and didn't see it live on Saturday. I'll subject myself to watching Maryland's painful offense so you don't have to.

As I defended Gary Williams with some of his teams recent NIT struggles I also need to give Ralph Friedgen some words of support. Overall he has done great things with this program. If you can remember the days of the Duffner era when Maryland was lucky to get 25,000 for home football games you would not look at this as a disaster. The program does indeed appear to be at a crossroads moment with a potential third losing season in four years, but we need to see how these last three games go. The injuries are not a complete excuse for some surprisingly poor coaching but you have to factor them in evaluating the season. I don't think Maryland would attract a better coach than Ralph Friedgen. At best you'd be taking a chance on an unproven commodity from a lower level program and right now you need more stability than that. The abject failures of the Ron Vanderlinden and Mark Duffner hires should give anyone pause who is looking for the next best thing to replace Fridge. If Maryland gets healthy and still struggles next season then it may be time to consider a change, until then it is premature.

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