Terps try­ing to get their edge back

First loss ‘a great learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence’ Durkin hopes to use against Min­nesota

Baltimore Sun - - SPORTS - By Don Markus

COL­LEGE PARK — After his team’s emo­tional win at Cen­tral Florida last month, Maryland foot­ball coach DJ Durkin talked about look­ing into the eyes of his play­ers on the side­line dur­ing the sec­ond over­time pe­riod and see­ing a col­lec­tive glare of con­fi­dence shoot­ing back.

Early in Satur­day’s 38-14 loss at Penn State — the Terps’ first de­feat of the sea­son and Durkin’s first as a head coach — con­fu­sion re­placed con­fi­dence on those faces as the Nit­tany Li­ons scored on their first pos­ses­sion and even­tu­ally took over the game.

“Our re­sponse to ad­ver­sity was not what it had been ear­lier in the year, for sure,” Durkin said at his weekly news con­fer­ence Tues­day. “Some of those things then snow­balled.”

Durkin was anx­ious to see how his team would re­spond when it re­turned to the prac­tice field Mon­day in prepa­ra­tion for Satur­day’s home game against Min­nesota (3-2, 0-2 Big Ten Con­fer­ence). After what he called a “great prac­tice,” Durkin be­lieves a dif­fer­ent team will show up for Maryland (4-1, 1-1) against the Golden Go­phers.

“We re­sponded the way you hoped they would and think they would,” Durkin said. “It’s all about how you bounce back, how you re­spond, and that’s life. We just got hit in the mouth. I’m look­ing for­ward to go back out and start swing­ing again and see how we re­spond.” Satur­day, noon TV: ESPNU Ra­dio: 105.7 FM, 980 AM Line: Maryland by 61⁄

Se­nior cor­ner­back, re­turner and cap­tain Will Likely said the Terps’ hunger never shrank dur­ing Maryland’s fast start to the sea­son.

“When you win, most peo­ple are not sat­is­fied with just win­ning one game; you want to win all you can. That’s why you play the sport,” Likely said. “I think we still have a chip on our shoul­der; we al­ways do. That’s a set­back, and we’ve just got to bounce back.”

Both teams should en­ter Satur­day’s game at Maryland Sta­dium with a sense of ur­gency. Min­nesota is on a two-game los­ing streak, with its goals be­gin­ning to van­ish after last week’s 14-7 home loss to Iowa. The Terps aim to al­ways play with an ur­gent mind­set.

“The way Coach Durkin runs his pro­gram, there’s al­ways a sense of ur­gency, whether you win or lose,” sopho­more cen­ter Bren­dan Moore said. “It’s not an op­tion.”

With the news Tues­day that Min­nesota will play with­out start­ing quar­ter­back and fifth-year se­nior Mitch Lei­d­ner (con­cus­sion), and that red­shirt ju­nior Conor Rhoda, a for­mer walk-on, will make his first start, there’s a sense that the Terps can make a quick re­cov­ery.

A vic­tory would put Maryland on the brink of be­com­ing bowl-el­i­gi­ble as it gets ready to play a home game the fol­low­ing week against Michi­gan State, the big­gest dis­ap­point­ment in the Big Ten, and per­haps the coun­try, this sea­son.

But just as he did be­fore the Terps’ sea­son Min­nesota quar­ter­back Conor Rhoda, a for­mer walk-on, will make his first start Satur­day. opener against Howard, Durkin won’t al­low them to look past any op­po­nent. While Maryland didn’t over­look Penn State, the Terps might have come into Beaver Sta­dium a tad cocky.

“When you win, you get too com­fort­able,” se­nior wide re­ceiver Teldrick Mor­gan (Meade) said Tues­day. “I’m not say­ing that we got too com­fort­able, but when you get that first loss, now you know how it feels, and you don’t ever want to go back to that feel­ing.”

Durkin said watch­ing tape of Satur­day’s game only for­ti­fied what he saw on the side­line in real time.

Durkin called the loss to the Nit­tany Li­ons “a great learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence” that he hopes to use against the Golden Go­phers as well as later in the sea­son.

“A team is go­ing to hit you in the mouth ev­ery now and again, and what you’ve got to do is come to­gether, come tighter, trust in your team­mates, and trust in the scheme and what’s go­ing on and not try to more than what your job en­tails,” he said. “There was far too much of that go­ing on.”

After Penn State scored on its open­ing drive, Maryland tied the game briefly. The Nit­tany Li­ons jumped ahead by 10 by half­time — they fol­lowed a touch­down by the Terps in the fi­nal min­utes with one of their own with 15 sec­onds left in the sec­ond quar­ter— and never again were threat­ened.

It was not just what Durkin saw on the faces of his play­ers that both­ered him.

“We didn’t play at our ef­fort level in this past game,” he said. “In those first four games, you see a team play­ing re­ally hard out there on the field. Ev­ery game we got a lit­tle bit bet­ter, played a lit­tle bit harder. Ef­fort makes up for mis­takes, too, and we didn’t give our­selves that op­por­tu­nity.”

NOTES: Durkin an­nounced that he has sus­pended red­shirt fresh­man line­backer Isaiah Davis for Satur­day’s game. Davis, the younger brother of for­mer Terps stand­out and cur­rent Pitts­burgh Steel­ers rookie Sean Davis, was ejected Satur­day after a late hit on kicker Joey Julius on the open­ing kick­off of the sec­ond half. … Durkin also an­nounced that se­nior run­ning back Trey Ed­munds, the son of for­mer Maryland star tight end Fer­rell Ed­munds, will have surgery this week to re­pair a bro­ken right foot. He is ex­pected to miss sev­eral weeks.

ADAM BETTCHER/GETTY IM­AGES

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