People often use the term “decimated” incorrectly, when they are trying to evoke the notion of a group of people suffering heavy losses. Math nerds will note that the root, “deci-,” means “one tenth.” It is in reference to Roman generals who would execute every tenth man in an underpforming unit. To use it in a sentence:
Randy Edsall and the injury bug have teamed up to decimate the Maryland football program.
While not mathematically precise, about in every ten Terps who was expected to contribute meaningfully during Edsall’s brief tenure has either left the program or is going to be wearing shorts on the sidelines tomorrow. It’s very early in the season to be banging on Edsall, so let me just concede that decimation is often part of a new coach’s plan. There is implied churn in the first year and a half of a regime change. Still, Edsall either banished or drove away an enormous amount of players who made up last season’s 10-loss pileup. Good on him. For many reasons, that team became an abomination and sometimes you need to blow the thing up.
What Edsall didn’t intend was that the remaining troops would be picked off by the injury fairy to the point that it’s almost comical. The depth chart for the game is laughably thin, with 12 scholarship players out for the opener, at least three of which would have been starters. At some positions, the guy you had barely heard of before is now hurt and the guy you have really never heard of is going to take serious snaps.
Well, what better way to start anew than to play a bunch of players who have never played before? That’s the reasoning I’m talking myself into as the final 24 hours of Maryland’s 2012 season gets underway. Tomorrow’s opener against William and Mary is the most winnable game on the schedule, but it’s also the one with the most potential for disaster. If the Terps lose by 40 at Clemson in November, nobody will bat an eyelash.
However, the way Maryland will get the most press is if they are upset by the FCS Tribe. Everyone is sort of morbidly (or gleefully, if you want to be a dick about it) waiting for the Terps to join Idaho and Middle Tennessee as the FBS teams who got beat by those plucky playoff-players in Week 1.
Maryland isn’t going to go 0-12. I’m not saying it isn’t possible, but if they’re going to go 1-11, the win is coming tomorrow afternoon.
Predictions: The new-new uniforms will look boss…Maryland’s defense looks 10,000 times better than last season, especially since it’s an FCS opponent…Perry Hills will not be terrible…Stefon Diggs will catch less than 3 passes, but will look great in the return game…Maryland 17, William & Mary 9
“Shell Game” is season-long a chronicle of Maryland football’s recovery from its disastrous 2011 campaign. The University of Maryland athletic department chose to deny our request for access. It was probably a wise move.