When the Terrapins football team’s 11-member leadership council met this week in Gossett Team House, the players in the room agreed that the Terps’ enthusiasm had dipped since their 4-0 start to the season.
It’s a natural progression. The Terps were upbeat while they were winning games early on, but now that they’ve lost four of five during a rash of injuries and have sat one win shy of bowl eligibility for more than a month, things have gotten a bit tense.
To regain their success, the Terps need to avoid pressing for that elusive sixth win. They need to stay loose because being too anxious or nervous will force the negative results to snowball further.
Overall, they just need to have a better time when they hit the field.
“I just think we need to go out and have a little bit more fun,” running back Albert Reid said. “Hopefully that’ll bring the team together a little bit more.”
Having fun won’t cure all of the Terps’ problems. A shorter injury list and a more potent offensive line would do much more to bolster the team than good times and laughter.
The Terps, though, aren’t going to get many of their key players back from injury this season and their offensive line won’t be stabilized soon. So the Terps shouldn’t worry about that. They simply should ensure they are focused when they go to play Virginia Tech tomorrow.
If the Terps put too much pressure on themselves this week in practice, they won’t have a shot against the Hokies. Whether a player cracks some jokes or the team gets amped up for certain drills in practice, the squad would benefit from being in a good mood.
As the potential of ending the season on a six-game losing streak and missing out on a bowl after a 5-1 start becomes more realistic, it’ll become harder for the team to play without overwhelming anxiety. But that’s what they need to do.
“Yeah, go out there and have fun, let it fly,” coach Randy Edsall said. “Each and every week, you’ve got nothing to lose other than to just give your best shot and give it everything that you’ve got.”
It’d be easy for the coaches and players to press too much. They aim to craft and execute a precise game plan each week, a task that takes a great deal of focus.
Plus, Edsall’s coaching style emphasizes sustained seriousness and professionalism, which doesn’t always lend room for smiles, at least publicly. But the Terps have already tried being angry after losses; they’ve already tried to bounce back from discouraging defeats with a singularly focused determination.
That’s not working. Now, a team that has steadily splintered during a rough stretch is watching its season spiral out of control.
Determination is great, but there wasn’t much of that in Gossett Team House after the Terps’ 20-3 loss to Syracuse. Instead, the Terps seemed confused and devastated, traits that don’t suggest a return to success.
“I feel that we’re letting a lot of people down,” inside linebacker Cole Farrand said Wednesday. “I feel like the coaches are doing their job getting us a good enough game plan. The players haven’t been executing.”
Farrand said that when the leadership council discussed ways the Terps could regain their early season form, improving enthusiasm was at the top of the list.
To do that, the Terps need to loosen up. So maybe on the trip to Blacksburg, Va., this weekend, they should turn on some good music, tell some embarrassing stories and let out some laughter.
Why not try having fun? Perhaps smiles before a game will finally lead to the Terps smiling after one.