Terps lowering bar to reach success

October 31, 2007|By BOB PARASILITI

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Success has one funny quirk. It has a habit of being controlled by failure. Teams with high hopes when the season starts usually begin lowering the bar as losses enter the picture.

The University of Maryland football team is one of those teams redefining success for the 2007 season.

The Terrapins started out with championship expectations, which included an Atlantic Division title, a Atlantic Coast Conference championship game victory and a trip to the Orange Bowl. Now, with three losses in four league contests, including two in a row, Maryland is viewing the season through glasses with a lighter shade of rose.

"I think having a winning record is very important to us having a good season," said Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen during his weekly media conference on Tuesday. "Making a bowl game is very important at this point with the season that we have had. It won't be an easy task with the schedule we have."


Championship aspirations have been reduced to attaining a winning season and going somewhere warm to play over the holidays. The Terps' last-second loss to Virginia two weeks ago made the top-of-the-line goals a little less attainable.

Then, last Saturday's 30-17 loss to Clemson put the dreams on life support. Maryland is three games behind undefeated Boston College in the Atlantic Division with four ACC games to play. They problem is compounded by the fact the Terps lost their ACC opener in overtime to Wake Forest on Sept. 22.

All that's left is Saturday's game at an improving North Carolina, followed by the final home game with No. 2 Boston College before closing out the regular season at Florida State and North Carolina State.

"You take back the Virginia and Wake Forest games and we are 6-2," said Maryland receiver Danny Oquendo. "It just shows you that a couple of plays can make all the difference."

A number of variables have helped spoil Maryland's plans for success. Topping the list are a large number of injuries, including four critical ones on the offensive line, which have slowed Maryland's progress.

As a result, younger players have been forced to step into the lineup as replacements, bringing a dropoff in precision, both offensively and defensively.

"We're not clicking," Oquendo said. "Ten people can do everything right and if one person breaks down, we all break down. I don't know what to attribute it to. It's really been us beating ourselves."

So now, success for Maryland comes down to three numbers - two, three or four wins in four games.

"Obviously, if we win two of these four we are bowl eligible and I think we will have to see how that plays out with the rest of the league," Friedgen said. "It could be possible that we might need seven wins.

"I tried to get their mind set. That it's now a four-game season and we need to stop feeling sorry for ourselves. We need to do what we can to win the football game. This is a really important one."

That makes the blueprint for success. Just win. It's black and white with no gray areas.

"We need seven at least or eight to go to a nice bowl. Pretty much every game is a must-win for us," Oquendo said. "We can still come out and be 9-4 like last year. If we can make a bowl and win the bowl, that would be a successful season."

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