Maryland football’s 2021 campaign has become a matter of pride

(Photo Courtesy of Maryland Athletics.)

Pride became the newest focal point for Maryland football head coach Michael Locksley following the loss to Minnesota. Added to the list of countless platitudes and buzzwords that have collectively captured the essence of Locksley’s football program is the new term that the head coach believes the team has recently been lacking.

“As I told our team, you know, on Monday we’re gonna coach whoever shows up, that has the mindset that they have enough pride to get this thing fixed,” Locksley said. “Because right about now, pride comes into play.”

In all things competitive, pride is an integral part of success. Without pride, teams dissolve into collections of individuals who are able but unwilling. A group of athletes who fail to consistently foster a mentality of responsibility and constant growth. Locksley understands a solid sense of pride is the difference between gradual improvement and habitual ineptitude. So do some of his players. 

“I think guys just have to have pride,” receiver Rakim Jarrett said following the game at Minnesota. “… be more desperate to win than be okay with losing.”

On the defense, linebacker Ruben Hyppolite II shared the same sentiment. 

“We got to take pride in doing our jobs and executing,” Hyppolite said. “We just gotta be more physical than our opponents. We just gotta want it more.”

Even in the face of a .500 record and a potential four game losing streak, Lockley believes this team is “ahead of schedule” when it comes to development and growth. He even likened this year’s team to its 2001 predecessor, the highly ranked Terp squad that Locksley helped coach that finished the season as ACC champs and with an Orange Bowl appearance, it also happens to be the honoree of Saturday’s homecoming game. 

“One thing that stood out to me when that coaching search took place, for a guy that I call a great mentor, coach Ralph Friedgen,” said Locksley, who was a running backs coach. “One of the first things he said, and it’s kind of become a mantra of mine, that coach Friedgen said to the team was, ‘I’m not going to teach you how to win, I’m going to teach you how not to lose — how not to beat yourself.’”

Like the 2001 roster prior to the start of the season and Friedgen’s eventual decade-long tenure, Locksley, along with the rest of the coaching staff, has been teaching a team so familiar with defeat, how not to lose and how to be prideful in its pursuit of success. 

Against Indiana, the Terps’ next opponent, not losing is a matter of taking pride and responsibility in correcting the errors that made Minnesota’s victory possible; from the penalties to the Terps’ struggles at the defensive line and the needless missed tackles at every level of the defense.

With the numerous quarterback questions the Hoosiers face and the losing streak they’re also wading through, it’s likely Indiana will look to exploit Maryland’s flaws to capture its first win since early September — making an improved run defense for the Terps especially important.

“And we say this often that, you know, ‘in baseball if you can’t hit the curveball, guess what you gonna see? The curveball.’” Locksley said. “I would expect that with [Indiana’s] quarterbacks being banged up, they’re gonna line up and say, ‘Well let’s look and see what Minnesota did.’ So we better get the things that we haven’t been able to correct corrected this week and expect them to come in and try to run the ball down our throat.” 

In front of its 2001 counterparts at home, Maryland football has to exert some pride. Not only because the window of opportunity for a bowl game berth is closing rapidly, but because pride makes winners or, at the very least, teams that don’t beat themselves.