COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) In his first game as Maryland's interim coach, Mike Locksley got an inspired effort from his players in a 31-30 loss to Penn State.
If not for a variety of miscues, the Terrapins might have pulled off an upset.
The goal this weekend, on the road against unbeaten and 10th-ranked Iowa, is to maintain the high morale and lower the turnover count.
''We can't make any mistakes, like we did on Saturday,'' left tackle Michael Dunn said Tuesday. ''If we get good field position, we've got to put it in the end zone.''
The focus will be on the play of quarterback Perry Hills, who pierced the Penn State defense for 124 yards rushing but threw three interceptions and lost two fumbles. The first two of those giveaways came inside the Penn State 20.
Hills has rushed for 294 yards in his last two starts, but the junior has also been picked off six times.
''He's made some plays for us, but we've got to be sure he takes better care of the football,'' Locksley said. ''If we can get that done, Perry is a guy we can win games with.''
Maryland's miscues weren't limited only to the offense. The defense yielded 315 yards passing on only 13 completions, mainly because the backs failed to locate the ball while it was in the air.
''We had 11 what we call 50-50 balls, and they converted 10 of the 11,'' Locksley lamented. ''If you look at the tape, very few times were the defensive backs not in position. They were right there to make the play. The next step is to finish the play.''
Despite those shortcomings, the Terrapins (2-5, 0-3 Big Ten) had a chance to win until Hills threw an interception with 1:15 remaining. Considering that Maryland was outscored 122-34 in its previous three games under Randy Edsall, the improvement was profound.
The Terps didn't beat Penn State, but they had a blast trying to do so.
''Obviously, it was really different,'' kicker Brad Craddock said. ''The coach really just wanted us to have fun, go out there and play like we did when we were kids. It was a different atmosphere. We came to play.''
Wide receiver Amba Etta-Tawo said: ''It was definitely better. He kept the energy up.''
After going through a coaching change and waiting two weeks to get back on the field after a 49-28 loss to Ohio State, the Terrapins were just glad to be playing football again.
''I like the way our team has come together after facing some tough adversity the last couple weeks,'' Locksley said. ''I liked the way our team played really loose and ran to the ball. We had a lot of guys contribute, and we fought for 60 minutes. Those are the things we can build on.''
Maryland was ahead in the fourth quarter but couldn't hold on. To turn things around, that must change.
''What we've got to do is take the next step and finish,'' Locksley said. ''That entails making plays that are there to be made. That's the difference between winning and losing for us.''
Maryland played well in Locksley's debut, but the task Saturday is much more formidable. Iowa has (7-0, 3-0) yielded only one rushing touchdown all season, and the Terrapins are 0-2 on the road after yielding a combined 94 points at West Virginia and Ohio State.