Maryland Seeks To End Skid Vs. No. 8 West Virginia
COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) — Maryland wide receiver Kevin Dorsey has already earned his diploma, received three varsity letters and been to a bowl game.
Here’s something the fifth-year senior hasn’t done: been a part of a victory over West Virginia, a shortcoming he and the rest of Maryland’s upperclassmen hope to rectify Saturday against the No. 8 Mountaineers in Morgantown.
“I guess that’s the only blemish on my career,” Dorsey said Tuesday. “It would be incredible to beat them, especially my last time being there as a player.”
The Terrapins have lost six straight to West Virginia since a 41-7 victory in the 2004 Gator Bowl. It’s also been five years since Maryland defeated a Top 10 team. With an upset win in a hostile environment Saturday, the Terps can end both streaks.
“It would be awesome, especially because I’ve got a little bit of a grudge against them after being hurt in Morgantown two years ago,” said senior left tackle Justin Gilbert, who sustained a season-ending knee injury during a 31-17 defeat in 2010. “Coming out with a W would be huge in our last non-conference game, going into the bye week.”
In a tradition that began long ago, when the Terrapins beat a Top 10 team a tombstone is placed outside the practice field to mark the achievement. The last tombstone was stuck in the ground in November 2007, after Maryland upset a Matt Ryan-led Boston College team that was ranked eighth.
“We definitely want to try to add another tombstone to the gravesite this weekend,” sophomore nose tackle Darius Kilgo said.
Beating West Virginia (2-0) is a tall order. The Terrapins are coming off a 24-21 home loss against Connecticut and will need to play near-flawless football against a Mountaineers squad that has scored 111 points in its two wins.
Maryland came close last year, falling 37-31 when a late drive ended with an interception. West Virginia ended up going to the Orange Bowl, and the Terrapins faded to 2-10.
The Terrapins have already matched their win total of a year ago, and there’s no understating the euphoria they would feel in getting another victory this week.
“It would be huge,” senior defensive end A.J. Francis said. “I’ve never got a tombstone before. It would be great to beat a team we never beat, a rival, a team that doesn’t like us and we don’t like them.”
Maryland’s struggle against West Virginia extends beyond the players. Coach Randy Edsall is 1-7 against the Mountaineers, including 1-6 as head coach at UConn, but he hopes the team can draw encouragement from last year’s narrow defeat.
“You always take a look at history and try to use it to your advantage,” Edsall said. “During the week, coaches will show certain things from last year. We know that we came close and came up a little bit short. But that’s something that we need to draw on. We need to minimize the mistakes. It has got to be a team thing.”
The Terps will need bring a pack mentality to Morgantown, where the visiting team can expect absolutely no hospitality.
“The last time I was up there, somebody’s grandmother spit on me,” Francis said.
Gilbert said, “You go into most stadiums, and the student section is the loudest part. At West Virginia, pretty much the whole stadium sounds like the student section. They’re pretty rowdy. That’s something we’re going to put an emphasis on this week, getting the offense ready for the crowd noise.”
The pressure will be on Maryland true freshman quarterback Perry Hills, whose only road game thus far, against Temple in a half-full stadium, could not have prepared him for the zaniness of playing in Morgantown.
“The one thing that we have to do is really prepare our guys for the noise and the hostility that those fans have for their Mountaineers,” Edsall said.
Despite that, Dorsey is looking forward his final trip to West Virginia.
“I like the atmosphere, the energy,” he said. “The crowd is screaming, and even though they’re against you, it’s the true essence of college football.”
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)