The Terps will be celebrating senior day on Saturday, when the 17 seniors on the team will be playing their last game in Byrd Stadium. Maryland head coach Randy Edsall had nothing but praise for the senior class during his Tuesday press conference and called for fans to come out and support the seniors in the “black-out” game against Florida State.
“I would love to see the place filled this weekend to pay respect to these seniors and also to this team for how they are battling and handling everything that has happened to them,” Edsall said. “These guys have come to work every day and they have done all of the things that we have asked them to do. That's why I would like to see a sold-out place a great environment for this last home game.”
Edsall understands his team is a huge underdog against a Top 10 team in the nation and the top team in the Atlantic Coastal Conference. That does not mean Edsall or the team has given up on the season, just that the Terps will need to put together one of the best performances of the season with a limited and injury-stricken team.
“The biggest thing is that we can't make mistakes,” Edsall said. “We need to play a perfect game. If we want to have a chance to win, we've got to play a perfect game and get turnovers against them. That's what we have to do.”
The Terps should have freshman wide receiver and returner Stefon Diggs back after he missed last week's game against Clemson. Diggs is listed on this week's injury report as probable with an ankle injury. The Terps will miss their leading rusher in freshman tailback Wes Brown who will have surgery to repair a torn labrum he suffered early in the season. Brown hurt his ankle against Georgia Tech two weeks ago and sat out last week's game as well. His season-ending injury is the latest casualty the Terps have faced this season.
“These are just lessons in life for these young men,” Edsall said. “We have gone through some things this year that you normally do not go through in football, but that is how life is. Sometimes someone in your family has a health issue or goes through general trials and tribulations, but what you have to understand is you are going to have tough times in your life, in school, and in football. It is how you deal with those tough times that determines who you are, and who you are as a team.”
Florida State's offense led by E.J. Manuel ranked fourth in the nation in scoring offense, averaging 43.1 points per game, and 11th in total offense, racking up 503.2 yards per game. Edsall and the rest of his players are aware of Manuel's talent and how dangerous he will be during the game.
“[Manuel]'s a guy that has played for a few years now,” Edsall said. “He's big. He's strong. He's got a good arm. He's mobile. He's got good people around him. He's just one of those guys that has the ability to make plays. He can make plays with his feet or he can make plays with his arm.”
As scary as the offense is, the defense is even more frightening, ranking fourth in scoring defense by holding opponents to 13 points per game and first in total defense, allowing an average of 242.9 yards a game.
“I've watched them play multiple times,” freshman quarterback Shawn Petty said about the Seminole defense. “You can see they fly around, they hit and they're a physical team. You just have to bring your 'A' game. You can't go and be lackadaisical and expect to get a win.”
“They play with a lot of swag,” senior offensive lineman Justin Gilbert added. “They know they're the best defense out there. They're flying around and hitting people and we just got to come out and play our game and not let that number one rating get in our heads and just play our offense.”
The season has not been ideal for the Terps who had high hopes after starting with a 4-2 overall record and a 2-0 start in conference play. Regardless of their current situation, the Terrapins still promise to come out and compete on Saturday for their fans who will hopefully show up to send the seniors off in their last on-field appearance in Byrd Stadium.
“It definitely hasn't been the season we wanted, but we're still playing hard every week and we're just going to keep playing as hard as we can and come out of these two games and make a bowl game,” Gilbert said.
“Anybody that is out there is a competitor, but the end is growing near,” Edsall said. “Hopefully we can fill the place up and get a lot of fans out there because these kids have given everything that they have to make the program better and represent this institution in the best way possible on and off the field.”
The Terps will take on Florida State at 12 p.m. Saturday at Byrd Stadium in College Park, Md.