There are really no words. Coming in as nine-point favorites, Maryland was absolutely clobbered, manhandled, and nearly shut out by the Temple Owls at Byrd Stadium earlier today, 38-7. Temple running back Bernard Pierce rushed for 149 yards - 108 of them in the first half - and a MAC-record 5 touchdowns, while Owl QB Chester Stewart was 9-9 for 140 yards. The Owls outgained Maryland 422-240 and dominated the game in every aspect. In truth, the score was closer than the performance.
Maryland took the ball to start the first half, and promptly went three-and-out. Temple's first play was a 54-yard pass from Stewart to tight end Evan Rodriguez, and the Owls punched the ball in three plays later. Now, just imagine that script on repeat. Normally I'd recap the rest of the game, that pretty much did the job.
Apologies if this seems hack-ish, but there's really not much to say in terms of analysis. Temple is a good team; I've said as much several times, and they did outscore their first three opponents - two of which are pretty bad, admittedly - 97-20. But they're not that good of a team. I don't think they're a "better" team than Maryland on most days, and certainly not 31 points better.
Give the Owls credit - they might've been flawless in that first half - but most of the blame here is on Maryland, both their players and their coaches. The team was lackadaisical from the very start, and never seemed to care about the outcome. Confidence was lacking, emotion was lacking, everything was lacking. The offense was bad, the defense was bad, even Danny O'Brien was below-average, his second such performance in two weeks. I'm not going to waste my time or my words recapping everything that was wrong, but suffice it to say that a lot was wrong.
The criticism that's poured down (and will pour down) was fully expected and mostly justified. The players obviously didn't show up today, and some measure of blame has to lay with them for that, but it's the coaches I consistently give the lion's share of the blame for that type of problem - one of their big responsibilities is to have their guys ready to go, and they didn't today. The playcalling wasn't particularly egregious, mostly because Maryland was never in the game, but it left a lot to be desired, especially on offense.
Any confidence I had in Randy Edsall as a program CEO or Gary Crowton as the offensive coordinator has now eroded just about entirely. (I never had any confidence in Todd Bradford.) Maryland as a team was bad today, and the normal offensive production that provides some reason for optimism was entirely absent. There isn't much to be happy about right now.
In a wider context, it's a shame what this loss has the potential to do to the Maryland program's momentum. After the Miami game, Maryland mattered on a national scale - recruiting was going well with big local targets, they were nationally relevant, and they had landed a big win over an ACC contender. Three weeks later, they sit at 1-2 and are teetering on laughingstock status after that performance. This loss kills the buzz around the program, will result in a drop in attendance - one Maryland can ill afford - and, perhaps most importantly, will likely set the program back in recruiting. A win over Towson will do little to redeem themselves next week, so they'll have to operate in their current state until a game at Georgia Tech in two weeks - and in case you've missed their earlier games this year, GT is very good.
But hey, look at the bright side: if nothing else, Temple isn't an ACC opponent. We know that Maryland can be better than they are today - they certainly were against West Virginia and Miami. This was an embarrassing loss and might be an ominous harbinger of things to come, but there's still time to right the ship before getting to the games that matter. Any hopes of an ACC title have obviously evaporated, but they can still be a decent, not embarrassing team.
At least hopefully a little less embarrassing than they were today.
A more wordy recap of the carnage will come tomorrow with the Stock Report (hint: most people will be in the Stock Down category) but for now, I have to figure out some way to salvage the rest of my Saturday.