Trash talking and mind games in sports are not a recent phenomenon. Teams throughout history very rarely give up the opportunity to use these incidents as motivation to attempt to gain even the smallest mental edge over their opponents. Maryland’s game against George Washington on November 7, 1953, serves as a quality example.
The pregame antics and propaganda were nothing short of what you would expect today between two fierce rivals. The teams did not like each other, and the Colonials took offense to what they saw as pompous behavior by the number two-ranked Terrapins. According to a Washington Post article, in the week leading up to the contest, a sign hung in George Washington’s locker room that claimed a Maryland scout coach told Jim Tatum that he would not have to suit up his first-string players against the Colonials. If this wasn’t enough, the Colonials were also dissatisfied with the way Tatum allegedly mispronounced their star player’s names on purpose, players Tatum supposedly saw as threats. A few G.W. tabloids even mocked the general news media for their fawning over the Terps and for discounting the Colonials’ accomplishments on the gridiron.
Maryland was vocally active as well, stating that George Washington’s star players were vastly overrated. The icing on the cake, however, came days before the hyped match up when a group of raiders, presumably from College Park, sneaked onto the G.W. campus late at night and painted “U. of M Terps will beat G.W.” in red letters on the library building. In response, the Colonials refused to have the paint removed for motivational purposes. With all of this going on, Terps coach Jim Tatum was determined to keep his team focused on the game like it was any other, having his team scrimmage on the Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday leading up to the contest.
The game turned out to be much less exciting than the antics that took place leading up to the contest. It was Maryland’s strength and talent against G.W.’s spirit and motivation. Surprisingly though, the Colonials’ feisty attitude kept them fairly even with the 2nd-ranked Terps throughout the first half, as Maryland only led by a point at the break, 7-6. G.W.’s competitive fire burned out in the second half, though, as the Terps were able to execute a number of explosive plays and keep the Colonials’ yardage to a minimum. As usual, Maryland backs Chet Hanulak and Bernie Faloney combined to account for the majority of Maryland’s offensive production. In the end, Maryland out-gained George Washington 302 yards to 105, shutting out the Colonials in the second half en route to a 27-6 win.
Maryland proved that despite all of the talk and shenanigans that may occur off the field, the game is still played on the field; ultimately the disparity in talent nullified the question of who had gained the most motivation from the pre-game fireworks.
Check back in next week as the Terps look to take on their first ranked opponent of the year, #11 Mississippi.