Usually when Yannik Cudjoe-Virgil orders lunch, it’s a casual affair. While Terrapins football players might cut imposing figures in the South Campus Dining Hall, the pedestrian past two seasons haven’t really called for that much extra attention to the Terps.
So when Cudjoe-Virgil got in the pasta line recently, the outside linebacker was expecting to get his food and move on with his day.
But his server had other ideas. He just had to comment on how the Terps played their last time out and what he thought about the team moving forward.
“Man, good game,” he said. “You guys have to battle this week and keep playing your hearts out.”
The Terps’ 4-0 start signals things have changed. The Terps are no longer stumbling out of September and into October with multiple losses. The Terps are ranked No. 25 nationally and play at No. 8 Florida State on Saturday in a battle of unbeatens. They throttled rival West Virginia in their last game.
And that’s created a noticeable change in the area.
“Just walking, people will say, ‘Good game, good game,’ people that I don’t even know,” left guard De’Onte Arnett said. “I am not going to lie, that’s one of the first times that has ever happened to me. I just take it with a grain of salt because, like Coach says, you’re never as good as you think you are and you’re never as bad as you think you are. The same goes for how other people view you as well. So when people tell me good game, I thank them, but I know what I got to work on and continue on.”
Arnett knows it hasn’t always been easy to get the fan base behind the Terps, either. He said he knows the home crowd is usually a “little tough,” but he appreciates the support.
Coach Randy Edsall noticed a distinct difference in the atmosphere surrounding the Terps, too. He was out recruiting over the weekend — he was reportedly at Friday’s Good Counsel-DeMatha matchup — and he feels the Terps are getting more attention.
“There was a better reception to us being out there and people taking notice, and then I also think it even ramped up a little bit after West Virginia beat Oklahoma State this past weekend,” Edsall said. “But people see what we’ve done so far this year, and now what we’ve got to do is we just got to continue to play well and continue to get better each and every day, and if we do that, then more people will take notice.”
The optimistic feelings have also transferred to the team. Many players say that while Saturday’s matchup is “just another game,” there’s a sense of conviction among the Terps that hasn’t been there before, and it’s showing on the field with the team’s early-season results.
“It’s definitely the confidence of everyone in the locker room,” quarterback C.J. Brown said. “I guess everyone has a little bit more swag. They feel confident because they’re going out and executing and doing what they need to do, and everyone’s getting recognized.”
Despite the national recognition and success, the Terps are still only one-third through the season. There’s still plenty of time for things to change, even if the campus and surrounding area is behind the team.
“We’re making progress,” Edsall said. “[But] we’re nowhere near where we need to be or where I want to be. I think that’s the one thing everyone’s just got to understand — that the season isn’t over after four weeks. We’ve got so much more that we need to accomplish and that we want to accomplish.”