Terps can forget loss, and season for that matter

JOHN EISENBERG

September 22, 1991|By JOHN EISENBERG

COLLEGE PARK -- As Joe Piscopo might say:

Maryland Terrapins. Verrrrrry bad day.

How bad?

The working title for their offense was "Eleven Motionless Men."

Their defense resembled the surface of the moon: big, cheesy holes everywhere.

Their chances of a winning season plummeted faster than (use your own Charles Robb joke).

Other than that, everything was wonderful.

It didn't rain roosters. The new press box didn't collapse. The Terps lost to West Virginia, not William & Mary. That was the good news.

Everything else about the Terps' 37-7 loss yesterday at Byrd Stadium was -- this in honor of Ollie North's charge-dropping -- suitable for shredding.

Verrrrrry bad day.

How bad?

You can forget about another bowl game.

And a winning season.

And much of the program's new, feel-good momentum.

New working title for the Terps this season: "Apocalypse Now."

Too drastic? No. Yesterday's loss dropped the Terps to 1-2, and their schedule is brutal the rest of the way: six of their last eight games on the road.

At Pitt, at Georgia Tech, at Clemson -- three losses in waiting. At North Carolina, where they got blown out a year ago. At North Carolina State, always tough. And one of their two home games is against Penn State.

Translation: 4-7 at best, probably 3-8.

They'll play some of those teams tough, maybe even pull an upset. They aren't as inept as they looked yesterday. But to expect them to win many is to believe in magic.

When they look back after the last game, they'll see a season that turned yesterday before a crowd of 40,442, most of whom fled very early.

A win would have bumped the Terps to 2-1 and offered them a semblance of a foundation. But instead they saw even their strength -- their defensive front -- exposed as weak.

All against a West Virginia team that got blasted at home by Pitt -- yes, the Terps' next opponent.

Told you things were about to get unpleasant. (West Virginia quarterback Darren Studstill didn't play against Pitt, but 34-3, geez . . .)

This was a find-your-level game between teams that appeared evenly matched beforehand, the kind of game you must win if you're a Maryland trying to generate some genuine momentum.

The Mountaineers were much quicker. Their offensive line dominated. The Terps found their level, all right. It was face-in-the-mud.

You knew they were in trouble when West Virginia went for a fourth-and-10 in the first quarter -- and got it on a quarterback scramble.

You knew they were in trouble when coach Joe Krivak changed quarterbacks after three series, (Jim Sandwisch for John Kaleo) putting in one with tendinitis in his elbow and shoulder.

You knew they were in trouble when West Virginia's Adrian Murrell rushed for almost 100 yards -- in the first 13 minutes.

You knew they were in trouble when Lubo Zizakovic stopped a fourth-and-one near the Terps' end zone in the third quarter, but was called for a face-mask penalty that gave West Virginia the first down.

Pretty soon, you knew they were in trouble because they were about a hundred points behind.

Verrrrrry bad day.

As Joe Piscopo might go on to say: Terrapins. Terrible. Terminated. Tomorrow? Tedium.

Make that: Teeeeee-dium.

The real shocker was the way the Terps' defensive front seven was pushed around. There are four fifth-year seniors in the group, including probably a couple of pros-in-the-making.

They got blown out so completely that the Mountaineers just stopped using their passing game. There was no need for it. They knew they could call a draw or try a scramble on third-and-10, and make the first down.

Some Hall of Fame holes were blown open in the Terps' defense.

There was enough room to string up a hammock between Zizakovic and Larry Webster.

You haven't seen holes this big since the script for "Bonfire of the Vanities."

Or since the Orioles went 0-21.

Big holes.

What that means for the rest of the season is something Terps fans shouldn't contemplate. This was supposed to be a team that relied on defense. Everyone knew that the offense, hamstrung by injuries in the line, wouldn't be a high-scoring group.

If the defensive front is overrated, yikes.

Truly the only good news for the Terps was they don't have to come back and play again next week.

The advice from this desk to Krivak and his coaches is to forget yesterday ever happened. Forget all that "learn from adversity" hogwash. All the Terps learned yesterday was that they weren't very tough.

Just burn the films.

Don't even bring the game up.

Spend the week talking very generally with the players about secondary football issues, such as weight lifting and throwing up.

And please, don't show them the films of the Pitt-West Virginia game.

Have a heart.

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