COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) - They've tried desperately to overcome an uncanny rash of injuries, and all the Maryland Terrapins have received for their effort is three straight losses.
Now things really get tough. After facing eighth-ranked Boston College at home Saturday night, the Terps close out the season with road games against Florida State and North Carolina State.
Maryland (4-5, 1-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) must win two of three to qualify for a bowl bid. It won't be easy, but at least the Terrapins haven't given up hope of salvaging a once-promising season.
``The type of team we are, we're not going to sit here and make excuses and feel sorry for ourselves,'' defensive end Jeremy Navarre said Tuesday. ``For the past three or four weeks, we've heard about the whole injury thing. We're over it. We have to win with who we have. We can't throw the season away because we're hurt.''
Only four offensive starters have played in all nine games, and the defense has been similarly stricken. Coach Ralph Friedgen says he's never experienced anything like it.
``I'm doing the best I can with what I've got,'' he said.
A month ago, the Terrapins were soaring after successive wins over then-No. 10 Rutgers and Georgia Tech. Then came the injuries - and losses to Virginia, Clemson and North Carolina.
If nothing else, Maryland knows exactly what must be done to extend its season beyond 12 games.
``We have a tough road ahead of us. We understand that,'' said standout linebacker Erin Henderson, who's nursing a strained back. ``We've dealt with tough times this year with the injuries and the adversity we've had to face, but it's a pride thing. We're going to keep our heads high and compete every day.''
Two out of three would give the Terps the minimum victories needed to receive a bowl bid. Why settle for just that, when a 7-5 record would be even more inviting to bowl scouts?
``We feel we need to win all three,'' Navarre said. ``Boston College is No. 8 in the country and Florida State beat Boston College. It's not an easy way out, but it's like that every year.''
Friedgen has spoken to his players individually and collectively in an effort to ensure they play hard to the end. He has no reason to expect anything less.
``We've got two ways to go. I told them I'd be disappointed if we didn't give everything we had,'' he said. ``We haven't reached the goals we want to reach, but I really feel good about this team and how hard they've been playing. I know they're hurting. I understand that. I would be worried if they weren't.''
Friedgen is hurting, too. Before the injuries began to mount, he expected the Terrapins to compete for the ACC title. Now they're in a desperate situation, but there's nothing to be gained by throwing down his whistle and cursing his luck.
``I'm not backing down. I'm not going to stop working,'' Friedgen said. ``I'm not down. If anything, I'm motivated. I'm going to get this thing right and we're going to win football games here at Maryland.''
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