BALTIMORE — All last week, the Terrapins football team worked to convince the media that Saturday’s game against West Virginia was just like any other game. There was no talk of heated matchups from the past or personal grudges. Nothing about the Terps’ seven-game losing streak to the Mountaineers.
All in all, the Terps said they were treating Saturday’s matchup at M&T Bank Stadium like any other game, flashy uniforms or no flashy uniforms.
But after the Terps’ 37-0 blowout win, each side slowly let its guard down about the significance of the game.
“It’s always good to beat West Virginia, especially after seven years of not beating them,” coach Randy Edsall said.
And while Edsall revealed a little joy in beating the Mountaineers, a team he lost to in his first two years in College Park, frustrations boiled over in the other locker room.
“We’ve beaten this team seven times in a row,” Mountaineers defensive tackle Shaq Rowell told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “We came out ready to play and they whooped our [behind] — period, point blank. We didn’t even put a point on the board today. It’s a disgrace to West Virginia, 1.8 million people.”
Edsall hasn’t been one to show much emotion in his tenure with the Terps. The team, like its coach, conducts most of its business behind closed doors.
But every once in a while, the Terps allow a glimpse into their psyche. And when they do, it’s usually a glimpse into an emotionally driven group.
“It actually was a big factor because they beat us what, seven [times] in a row or something like that?” inside linebacker L.A. Goree said. “That’s not what Maryland football is about. We went out there with a chip on our shoulder, and we had to represent for our state and our school.”
The Terps’ overall output from Saturday’s game — tying their largest margin of victory for the season and breaking a seven-game losing streak to their rival Mountaineers — was hard to argue with.
But Edsall, ever the detail-oriented coach, still found areas to pick at during Sunday’s conference call.
The Terps were penalized a season-high seven times for 39 yards in the shutout victory. And for Edsall, that wasn’t good.
“I am very annoyed with the offense,” Edsall said. “We had three false starts by receivers; we had a false start by the running back; we had the holding penalty. Those to me are just concentration issues that we have to get cleaned up.”
The Terps’ season-high for penalty yards came in their Sept. 14 win at Connecticut when they were penalized four times for 54 yards.
The Terps had false-start penalties on each of their first two drives, both of which put them in eventual third-and-long situations. On the opening drive, wide receiver Deon Long false started on the outside, turning a second-and-7 into a second-and-11. On the second drive, right guard Michael Dunn false started, turning a second-and-10 into second-and-15. The Terps punted on both of those drives.
The Terps still managed to score on three drives during which they committed penalties, but with No. 8 Florida State looming Oct. 5, Edsall’s comments indicate he’s expecting his team to cut down on small mistakes that create long-yardage situations.
For the first time in more than two years, the Terps received votes in the weekly Associated Press poll. The Terps haven’t been ranked since after their Military Bowl win at the end of the 2010 season, but they picked up 24 votes, the third-highest total of teams not ranked in the top 25 behind Arizona State and Georgia Tech.
The Terps also picked up votes in the USA Today Coaches Poll, recording 11 votes, the seventh-highest total. ESPN.com took notice as well, and the Terps checked in at No. 25 in the website’s power rankings. They were the fourth ACC team in those rankings behind Clemson (No. 3), Florida State (No.8) and Miami (No. 14).