Edsall: Just didn't work out
COLLEGE PARK--Maryland senior linebacker Marcus Whitfield was in Gossett Team House’s cafeteria, seated in front of large floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook the south end zone of Byrd Stadium on Tuesday afternoon.
Whitfield was taking questions from the media before his final home game would take place on that same field Saturday against Boston College.
“I haven’t really thought about it,” Whitfield said before thinking a bit more before continuing. “It’s starting to set in and of course I’ll always miss playing at Byrd.”
The soft-spoken Whitfield has emerged as a playmaking mainstay in Maryland’s injury-depleted linebacking corps as a senior after three seasons as a contributor on the Terrapins’ defense.
“Just that feeling coming out of the tunnel before the games, and all the fans out there cheering and then your friends and family are there. It’s like, you don’t even have words for it.
“I’m not really an emotional person, but I don’t know. This is my last game at home, so we’ll see.”
Four days later on Saturday against Boston College, we saw.
Whitfield might not have had the gaudiest tackle total, only three, but was at the center of two of Maryland's biggest plays.
In the first quarter, Whitfield broke through the line, forced and recovered a fumble by BC quarterback Chase Rettig, which set Maryland up just one yard from a touchdown. The Terrapins would score on the next play to grab an early 10-3 lead.
Then in the fourth quarter, moments after the energy had been drained from the stadium following a 74-yard Boston College touchdown, Whitfield blocked kicker Nate Freese’s extra point attempt. The ball soared into the air and was grabbed by Maryland safety Anthony Nixon, who returned the ball 98 yards for an unconventional two points to tie the game at 26-26.
It would have been an unmatched Senior Day for Whitfield if it weren’t for the final score, a 29-26 Boston College victory on a stunning 52-yard Freese field goal as time expired.
“It was definitely a tough loss,” Whitfield said. “Couldn’t ask for anything more from the guys. They played their hearts out. I just have love for my team. They did their best. We all did our best.”
Whitfield has amassed 46 tackles and 8.5 sacks during this, his senior season. In the three years prior, he had 21 tackles and 3.0 sacks--combined.
Saturday was his swan song at home, but there are still two more games remaining in his college career, one on the road to finish the regular season and a bowl game in December--or January, if the chips fall the right way--to end it.
In his time before this season, Whitfield had essentially never played in a game of consequence this deep into November as Maryland has struggled. But now he’s at the center of a defense that is fending off injuries and pushing forward.
“Marcus, just happy for him in the terms of the kind of year he’s having,” head coach Randy Edsall said on Sunday. “The one thing is, he’s stepped up his game this year and that’s good to see.”
Maryland goes on the road to face NC State and shoot for win No. 7 on Saturday.