In the dog days of August, Maryland coaches would spend practice after practice working on a player's technique, from where a placekicker plants his foot to where a cornerback moves his eyes.
In the dog days of November, the Terps are proving that they are slow learners — as evidenced by what happened in Saturday's 31-10 loss at Wake Forest.
Listening to first-year Maryland coach Randy Edsall assess his team's seventh straight defeat and its sixth this season by double digits during his teleconference Sunday, it seemed as if the Terps had lost on a technical knockout.
Edsall said that junior kicker Nick Ferrara's struggles since making four field goals in five attempts in a season-opening win over Miami have mostly to do with technique rather than temperament or talent.
"It was his plant foot. Tis technique, when he gets his foot ahead of the ball, you can't get your hips through because the ball is going to go where your hips go," Edsall said. "Those are the things you look at and you work with him on and then he has to go out and execute."
Ferrara missed two of his three field goal attempts and is now 12 of 19 for the season.
Despite Ferrara's misses, Maryland (2-9, 1-7) was still in the game until late in the third quarter, when Wake Forest (6-5, 5-3) broke it open by scoring three touchdowns in four possessions. Sophomore quarterback Tanner Price (320 yards and three TDs) and junior receiver Chris Givens (eight catches for 191 yards and a touchdown) connected on several big plays.
"Some guys didn't do some of the things they needed to do fundamentally, in terms of getting out of their backpedals soon enough and putting their eyes where they belong," said Edsall, a former secondary coach. "Against a receiver like him and a quarterback who can throw the ball well, you leave yourself vulnerable to the big plays."
With only one game remaining, the Terps will be trying to avoid joining the 2009 team for the most defeats in a season and Edsall will be trying to not join Ron Vanderlinden as the only coaches in Maryland history to lose six straight ACC games by double digits.
"The thing that is frustrating is that each week there is something there that's causing us not to win," Edsall said. "You just go back to work. We'll show'em the mistakes and work to get those mistakes corrected. You want something positive to happen, but it's not going to happen unless you do what you're supposed to do when the game is there."
The good: Maryland's defense, especially its line, played its "best half" of the season according to junior tackle Joe Vellano. Freshman tackle Andre Monroe sacked Price three times in the first half.
The bad: Maryland's offense was 0-for-4 in the red zone, the first time Wake Forest had shut out a team inside the 20 in five years.
Next up: The Terps finish the season Saturday at North Carolina State, which is coming off an impressive 37-13 win over then-seventh-ranked Clemson.