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Maryland football came out flat vs. Rutgers, and can’t afford to do the same again

The Terps are searching for answers after an agonizing road loss.

NCAA Football: Maryland at Wisconsin Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

For Maryland football fans, watching the team’s defense unable to stop a mediocre Rutgers team with virtually no passing game was incredibly frustrating. It was no different for the coaches and players.

“We weren't very excited as a team in how we all played and how we all coached,” defensive coordinator Andy Buh said in his weekly press conference Wednesday. “We felt like as an entire organization, Rutgers got the better end of us.”

The Scarlet Knights “got the better” of the Terps to the tune of 239 rushing yards and a 14-0 fourth quarter en route to coming from behind to down Maryland on Saturday. Nearly 100 of those yards came in the first quarter, which should have alarmed Terps fans despite the closeness in terms of score; Maryland led 7-0, but is 0-5 when allowing more than 100 rushing yards.

As resilient as the team looked in its 42-39 win over Indiana two weeks ago, it looked every bit as flat against Rutgers.

“After watching the game, I think a lot of people had a more solid second half than first half just because of how flat we came out,” redshirt sophomore linebacker Isaiah Davis said Wednesday. “Once we realized, ‘Alright, these dudes came out to play,’ now we’ve got to kind of pick it up. The momentum had already changed in their favor, so I think the easier thing to do would be just come out 100 percent and not as lackadaisical as we did.”

One may find it odd that a program in Maryland’s situation, needing two wins to earn bowl eligibility and playing its most winnable remaining game, could possibly take an opponent lightly, but it appears that’s exactly what happened. There’s almost never one particular reason that a team struggles the way Maryland did, but Buh had some ideas.

"We just weren't getting off blocks,” Buh said. “We had guys in position at times, most of the time, and just weren't making the play. Again, it goes back to the start of the week, the entire week at practice and into the game we probably could have done a lot of things better."

So now what?

It’s hard not to look ahead to the next three games and try to create situations where the Terps become bowl-eligible. But the Terps are focused only on beating Michigan this weekend.

“I don’t think, as a coach, you can ever talk in terms of the next three games or four games. It’s about the game you’re playing,” head coach DJ Durkin said in his weekly press conference Tuesday. “If you have your focus anywhere else, you’re certainly not going to do well with what you have right in front of you. ... That’s what our focus is 100 percent on—this game right here, Michigan, which is plenty enough for us to focus on. That’s where we’ve got to be.”