LANDOVER, Md. - The Maryland Terrapins lost to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, 45-21, over the weekend in what was just the latest in a string of embarrassing losses this season. The Terps are now just 2-8 in Randy Edsall's first year as the head coach, and for some reason, it feels much worse than the 2-10 campaign of a couple years ago.
There were some good signs in the game on Saturday, like D.J. Adams finally getting back into the lineup and showing why he should have been playing all along. But the real story of the game is that the Terps just couldn't stop the Irish when they ran the ball, and because of that, they never really had a chance in this one. It was a deconstruction, from start to finish.
At this point it's hard to feel good about the Terps. They only have two wins this year, one against a terribly depleted Miami team in the first game of the season and the second against an FCS school in Towson. They've lost to every full-strength FBS school they've played this year. It's been a dark season.
But that does not mean that the cupboard is completely bare. The Terps have been hit hard by the injury bug this year, which means they have had to play a lot of really young players that weren't ready for the spotlight. But those young players, particularly true freshman Alex Twine and A.J. Hendy, have shown signs of developing into really good players down the road.
Twine is a true freshman form Gaithersburg's Quince Orchard High School that has been thrust into the starting lineup for much of the year because of the injuries the team has experienced at linebacker. At one point this year the Terps were starting three freshman at linebacker. When Darin Drakeford and Demetrius Hartsfield returned from injury, Twine stayed in the starting lineup even though he had the least experience of the three. He has gotten some notoriety from the press this year because he is just 17 years old. After some growing pains initially, Twine is finally starting to get comfortable in his role.
"I had no idea I was going to get this much playing time. I had no idea if I was going to play at all or if I was going to redshirt," he said Saturday. "Now that I'm starting, it's like a blessing. I'm just enjoying the moment and getting better every week. It's to the point now where I can't use young as an excuse. I feel like I've had enough game experience that I can't have any more excuses. It has to be on me."
The other true freshman that was starting against Notre Dame was A.J. Hendy, who was a combo cornerback/safety when he got to College Park from Bowie High School last year. He has the size to play safety and the athleticism to play corner, but the coaching staff decided to put him at safety full-time. Like Twine, his transition to major college athletics hasn't been completely smooth, but he has shown signs of being a very good player once he gains enough experience to be comfortable.
There are more young players that have impressed all over the field as well. Marcus Leak and Adrian Coxson are two wide receivers to watch. Andre Monroe and Keith Bowers have been a force along the defensive line. Justus Pickett has caught the eyes of the coaching staff at running back.
This season is not going well, that much is certain. But there are some pieces already in place that could lead to a much brighter football future. Twine and Hendy are just the two most recognizable faces, but there is some young talent here. The hope is that it leads to some wins in the future.
For further reading, news, discussion and more, visit SB Nation's Maryland blog Testudo Times and SB Nation's Notre Dame blog One Foot Down. Here’s the complete Week 11 college football TV schedule, and stay tuned to SB Nation’s college football news hub for more.