The Maryland football team entered its game at Rutgers mired in a stretch of three losses in four games. Still, linebacker Isaiah Davis said the Terps expected to beat the Scarlet Knights.
After all, they crushed Rutgers, 31-13, in 2016.
But the Scarlet Knights controlled the game, winning by a touchdown and dealing a blow to the Terps' postseason hopes. Rutgers ran for 52 yards on its opening drive and finished with 239 rushing yards.
While Maryland must win two of its final three games — all against ranked opponents — to become bowl eligible, the squad is trying to remain level-headed and focus only on Saturday's matchup with No. 21 Michigan.
"Every week, you prepare yourself, try to get 18- to 22-year-olds to focus their mind on one game, one game plan, one job — what is their job, how they're going to go execute," coach DJ Durkin said. "And that's it. It sorts itself out as you go."
Maryland has grown frustrated with its defensive shortcomings throughout the year, and its most recent performance provided another source of disappointment. The Terps are 101st in the country in yards allowed per game (433.7).
Defensive coordinator Andy Buh attributed the Rutgers setback to difficulty getting off blocks and failing to make plays. He also criticized Maryland's practice intensity the week prior.
"We weren't very excited as a team in how we all played and how we all coached," Buh said. "I think every facet of the preparation and the execution could have been better."
Buh has endured difficult campaigns before. In 2007, he was the linebackers coach on a Stanford team that won just four games and went 1-11 the previous year. So he said he's avoided panicking, instead telling the players to "roll up our sleeves and work harder."
But Buh acknowledged Maryland's Big Ten struggles have taken a toll.
"It makes things exhausting for both the player and the coach," Buh said. "But we have to keep pressing forward. Keep coming up with better ways to do things."
In practice this past week, Davis and his fellow linebackers tried to show aggressiveness to raise the defense's level of play. They know it will be difficult to handle the Wolverines on Saturday if they do not change their approach.
"We're just trying to be violent again," Davis said. "If you watched last week, we weren't violent at all. They were just driving down the field."