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Terps done talking

October 16, 2008|By BOB PARASILITI

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- One bad loss can be a fluke.

Two is nearly a disaster.

Three? That would be devastating.

That's pretty much the prospect the Maryland football team has in its chase for an Atlantic Coast Conference championship game berth. It is definitely a case of three strikes and you're out -- especially if two of those losses are in conference play.

Maryland's 31-0 loss to Virginia on Oct. 4 got the attention of the Terrapins, who fell to 4-2 overall and 1-1 in the ACC. A light flicked on when they got turned off by the Cavaliers, who entered that game as one of the nation's lowest-scoring teams.

"The loss to Virginia is probably one of the toughest losses I've ever experienced," said Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen during his weekly media conference Tuesday. "We just didn't play very well and they played very well. I think our kids were down and they had some time to get away (during the off week) and evaluate where we are at. They had a meeting themselves."

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The meeting was held Oct. 7 after the team had watched films. It was a players-only gathering, called by the seniors.

"We need accountability," said defensive lineman Mack Frost. "As seniors, we are all accountable for ourselves and we brought that to our team -- to make sure we're accountable to them and they're accountable for themselves."

Friedgen had hoped the players would realize they were missing a golden opportunity. The Terps have 22 seniors, including 14 starters -- numbers that usually indicate a flourishing team.

But Maryland has struggled with consistency and those struggles have been as apparent in losses as in wins.

"When we watch film, we watch us because the other team is going to show up but it is all about what we do," Frost said. "We can't really worry about what they do because they are going to come prepared."

The meeting wasn't so much to yell and criticize each other, but rather to encourage.

"Everyone on the team wants to get so much better," said center Edwin Williams. "No one is the problem. We all need to get better. We all want to make plays."

"Everyone feels like they are the problem. They feel like if we don't win, it's their fault. If we get better, the consistency will come," Williams said.

The seniors realized they control their destiny and wanted to make sure the whole team was in for the complete ride.

"First of all, we wanted to put this season on the seniors' backs," said defensive back Kevin Barnes. "The seniors have to eradicate mistakes. We went in and told the young guys that we will call you out when you do something wrong, but when we aren't doing something right, you call us out."

All the talking is done. Now it's time for action.

The Terps host No. 21 Wake Forest -- a team which has administered two straight stinging defeats to Maryland -- on Saturday. The stakes are high for Maryland because the lead or a two-game deficit in the Atlantic Division is at stake.

"I don't know what went on (in the meeting), but I was impressed with the two practices in the off week. What impressed me was not that we did everything right, but I saw a sincere desire to try and do everything right," Friedgen said. "It wasn't like we weren't committed to getting better.

"If you have that, then you can get better. The question now is, 'Can we sustain that?'"

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