Maryland seeks to rebound after successive lopsided losses
COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) Coming off the worst back-to-back defeats in school history, Maryland is in full bounce-back mode as it prepares to face No. 19 Nebraska, which is unbeaten at home and still in contention for the Big Ten title.
After starting 4-0, the Terrapins (5-5, 2-5) have five of six - including 59-3 to Michigan and 62-3 at home against Ohio State.
''We've hit a low spot, obviously,'' defensive tackle Roman Braglio said Tuesday.
There's no guarantee the situation will improve Saturday at Nebraska (8-2, 5-2). Maryland has quarterback issues and might again be without three suspended players, including running back Lorenzo Harrison, who's rushed for 664 yards and five touchdowns.
Receiver DJ Turner and linebacker Antoine Brooks also received indefinite suspensions last Saturday for violating the school's student-athlete code of conduct. Coach DJ Durkin would not comment Tuesday on the players' status for this week.
That, however, is the least of Maryland's problems. Quarterback Perry Hills injured his left shoulder in the first quarter against Ohio State, and his availability for Saturday will be determined later in the week.
The drop off in talent from Hills to backups Caleb Rowe and true freshman Tyrrell Pigrome is noticeably significant. Hills has three interceptions over 147 attempts; his backups have been picked off five times over a collective 56 throws.
With and without Hills, the Terrapins have played far worse over the last two weeks than at any other point this season. The combined 121-6 score of the losses to Michigan and Ohio State finally got the 1892 Maryland team off the hook for largest margin of defeat over a two-game span. That 1892 squad - the first in school history - lost to St. John's of Annapolis 50-0 and Johns Hopkins 62-0.
The lopsided blowouts sustained by this Maryland team would seem to indicate the vast chasm in talent between the rebuilding Terrapins and best of the Big Ten.
''Not taking anything from either team - both had really good defenses - but at the end of the day we got away from what we usually do,'' running back Kenneth Goins said. ''We didn't execute as well as we did against other teams we played. I just feel like we weren't as focused as we should have been.''
It's difficult to keep a positive attitude in the wake of two straight blowout defeats, and Durkin acknowledged the mood of the locker room is anything but upbeat.
''When you play the way we did and lose games like that, it's not a good mood,'' Durkin said. ''If and when we learn to play consistently, a lot of stuff will be different for us. That's the message. You move on, good or bad. Our guys are resilient. They bounce back.''
Despite their tailspin, the Terrapins still have a chance to become bowl eligible. That's just might be the only thing keeping the spirit alive.
''What we're conveying to our guys is this season still has a chance to be a tremendous success for us,'' Durkin said. ''We need to go finish strong and play the way we're capable and not worry about circumstances or injuries. It's all part of it. We have young guys playing. OK, let's go play and play well. We've done it at times.''
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