So when I said I was “on the road” this weekend, I really meant I was headed back to Baltimore for a really special weekend to celebrate my father’s 60th birthday. I surprised the old man by showing up this morning, with tickets to take him tonight’s game, Sunday’s Ravens game, and Monday’s Maryland basketball game. It was already set up to be a special weekend.
What I saw on the field tonight wasn’t about a single player, or a single coach, or anything for that matter. Tonight was an example of an entire program rallying together despite everything being stacked against them.
It is probably miraculous that Scott Burley, Bruce Campbell, and Erin Henderson can do ANYTHING given their injuries, more or less play College Football against a Top 10 team, yet they were all ready to go.
Chris Turner could have easily looked over his shoulder to see a healthy Jordan Steffy ready to play, and a less-than-enthused approval from Ralph Friedgen during the week.
Lance Ball could have been neutralized by facing the nation’s top run defense, especially with his backfield partner Keon Lattimore missing.
WR Darrius Heyward-Bey could have given up hope that the Terps would ever find the right way to use him, and could have been overwhelmed by the loss of fellow WR Danny Oquendo. Freshman WR Emani Lee-Odai had NO REASON to think he might be any part of the game.
TE Jason Goode could have given up hope of finding a role in this team’s offense.
The entire defense could have been caught up in the emotion of Senior Night (almost the entire secondary, as well as Dre Moore and Carlos Feliciano played their final home games of their college careers), or could have been overwhelmed by Heisman Trophy candidate Matt Ryan.
Coach Ralph Friedgen could have shaken in the wake of injuries or the questioning of his ability to both run the offense and be head coach.
Every coach on the team could have failed to deliver (especially Chris Cosh) knowing that EVERYONE expects there to be changes made to the coaching staff this offseason.
The entire program could have been swept up in a 3 game losing streak, as well as an overall 4-5 record; and could have shown no reason to play at a high level.
The students could have found another way to spend their Saturday night, expecting the team taking the field might be no better than a 5-7 team.
The alumni and fan base could have failed to “sell out” a night game against a Top 10 opponent on ABC. (The game may have been called a sell-out, but there were certainly plenty of seats upstairs available).
However, with seemingly no reason to think that this team had ANY chance of even hanging with BC (I joked earlier in the day that when I bought these tickets, there were people that actually wanted to go to this game), Maryland not only won, but looked BRILLIANT at times in a win.
Yes, the 3rd down defense was BRUTAL, and not every pass completed by Chris Turner was a masterpiece in the air. But this team was inspired from start to finish, and out-manned Boston College in almost every facet of the game. In fact, BC’s only challenge was a 21-20 advantage they took at the start of the 2nd half, and Maryland responded by running off the next 22 points of the game.
Tonight’s game does prove SOMETHING-Ralph Friedgen is still the deserving head coach of this team. As an alum, the atmosphere on the field following tonight’s game doesn’t hit home to anyone more than it does to Ralph. This was as special for him as it was for ANYONE else. He lives for these moments. Despite the scenarios playing out during the week, Ralph rallied this team together, and truly believed in his kids.
As a guy who flew across the country to surprise his father by taking him to the game, and as someone who sat in that student section before, and slept in Cumberland Hall, and probably went to the Chick-Fil-A inside Stamp one too many times; I’m GRATEFUL that Ralph is the man with the job.
I can’t give you a full update tonight because I really haven’t slept since landing in Maryland; but I wanted to comment quickly on a few other things…
-I’m really concerned about the secondary for Ravens-Bengals tomorrow. I can’t pick the Ravens in good faith after seeing what happened to them against Pittsburgh; and I can’t trust this offense in a shootout either. Bengals 38, Ravens 24
-I wasn’t surprised at all by how Navy’s game at North Texas played out. In the end, Navy was a MUCH better offense, just failed to play defense. For as much fun as we had in college park, could you imagine being at a game where 136 points were put up? I’ve been to all too many basketball games where not even 136 points were put up. Navy is going to win out, the question will be whether or not they’ll be back in San Diego, or whether 8-4 will get them an invite to a nicer bowl game.
-This is a “Mother-Huffing” predicament. Aubrey Huff came to Baltimore after a decline in Tampa, didn’t put up much in the way of numbers this season, then runs his mouth about the city and tries to bail on the things he said. Hey Aubrey-we don’t need you any more than you need our nightlife. Enjoy thinking about what strip club you’re going to in some other town. You’ve officially joined Kevin Millar in my club of players I won’t root for, but if you’re still on the team next season-I’ll find a way to root for the city that isn’t printed on your uniforms. And a note to the Orioles; I PRAY TO GOD that you hear all of the excrement spewed by the mouths of players who you employ.
-See you at M & T tomorrow.