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Terps remain consistent with their inconsistency

September 10, 2008|By BOB PARASILITI

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The University of Maryland football team was sunk.

Right from the outset, coach Ralph Friedgen knew it was a possiblity the Terrapins could struggle against Middle Tennessee State, but he really didn't want to believe it.

"I knew if we weren't at our best, we would have a good opportunity to get beat," Friedgen said. "And we weren't at our best."

It showed. Maryland's lackluster performance resulted in a 24-14 loss to the Blue Raiders, one that raises questions as to how good the Terps really are and if the loss against a team some consider a lesser opponent signals the end of the season after just two games.

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For now, Maryland is sunk because they are under "C" level. The Terps were lacking in consistency, communication and concentration.

"I had the offense watch the (Middle Tennessee) film as a group," Friedgen said. "I thought we had a lot of things that we wanted, but we didn't execute. I wanted the players to see it that there are things that need to be corrected.

"On defense, we had some communication issues. We have to get better and get in tune. These are all mistakes that are fixable. We are not as focused as we should be. We need to be consistent ... some of it is the new offense, some of it is focus and some of it is because of young players."

At this point, all of it hurts the Terps, who had designs on being undefeated by the time they faced Clemson in the Atlantic Coast Conference opener on Sept. 27. Maryland now can be 3-1 at best, but the Terrapins face an extremely stringent test when No. 23-ranked California comes to Byrd Stadium on Saturday.

The Terps claim the Golden Bears have caused them to work on the C-Span - consistency, communication and concentration - because a win on Saturday could wash away the stench of last week.

"Right now, we are putting the last game behind us," said Maryland tight end Dan Gronkowski. "Coach didn't punish us. He tried to motivate us. We didn't know what to expect because we didn't play well. We don't want to have the same feeling on the field like we did last week."

It will take a step-by-step process to remedy the situation.

"We need to have good practices," Gronkowski said. "That's where the consistency starts. It isn't a problem of our new system. The system is putting us in plays, but we aren't executing.

"When we watched the film, there were so many plays where you could see where we needed one more block. It was like the ball was thrown a little too far, or the blocks didn't match up or the running back cut the wrong way. You see it on film and you see we could have had touchdowns if we had executed."

It is making the practice leading up to games like this one with California, which is averaging 56 points per game, all the more important.

"We have to work hard and we have to practice better this week," said Maryland center Edwin Williams. "Practice is the big issue. We are so close to doing great things. We need one little push, one little step to be able to do great things. We have to stay focused."

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