Terps getting run over

Terps getting run over
November 2, 2011, 12:57 am
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By Benjamin Standig
CSNwashington.comAs the losses have piled up, the Maryland football program more specifically, coach Randy Edsall has been steamrolled by outside criticism in recent weeks. And opposing ground games continually running over the Terps defense has not helped the cause.In the loss to Boston College Maryland's fourth straight overall and sixth in seven games the Terps surrendered a staggering 376 rushing yards. Eagles' running back Rolandan Finch entered that game without a single 100-yard game on his resume. The redshirt sophomore bypassed the century mark with a whopping 243 yards. The level of production Finch and the Eagles generated on the ground tops the rushing list against the Terps this season, but it was hardly a one-off situation. Maryland ranks last against the run among ACC programs allowing 235 yards per game - and by a healthy margin; no other team in the conference allows over 194 yards per game. Broadening out on national scale does not improve the situation; out of the 120 programs that play football on the FBS level, only two Kansas and New Mexico surrender more rushing yards than Maryland.We havent been good in run defense, Edsall said Tuesday during Marylands weekly media session at Gossett team house. Were trying to take our pieces that we have and get them into the right places based on what the other teams are doing and who we are. You would like to make them one-dimensional, but we havent been able to do that so far.On Saturday at Byrd Stadium, the final home game of the season, the question will be can Maryland (2-6, 1-4 ACC) stop a Virginia (5-3, 2-2) squad that sports a powerful offensive line, a touted running back in junior Perry Jones and churns out 186.4 rushing yards per game. The trend is certainly not in Maryland's favor. Considering the Terps need to sweep their final four games simply for the chance of a bowl game invitation, immediate adjustments are required.Then again,the Terps had success containing thescariest running game they faced all season, holding Georgia Tech's potent triple-option attack tototals far below its season average."Thats the crazy thing. We can do this, it's not even a question," said senior defensive tackle Maurice Hampton.Finding a singular reason for the defensive struggles is not simple, though there are several contenders. Playing with an inexperienced lineup, one still learning technique and proper reads to make, does not help. The combination of injuries and Edsall shaking up the roster hierarchy has led to six freshmen starting on defense this season. Nearly half of the two-deep defensive depth chart (9 of 22) are true or redshirt freshmen. Any review of recent game tape shows copious amount of missed tackles. Using green players, often against seasoned foes, will lead to mistakes.We have some younger guys who arent used to seeing a lot of things, Hampton said. Just have to stay focused and everybody has to realize this is my job; I have to execute. If everyone executes their job, I think well be fine.More changes are in store this week. Junior Darin Drakeford, who has missed four games with injuries this season, moves from weakside to Star linebacker. Drakeford has played there before. We will put him out there and hopefully that will help us stop the run a little bit better with having a little more physicality at those positions, Edsall said.The 240-pound Drakeford has experience, but also 50 pounds on freshman Mario Rowson, who started the last four games in place of the injured Kenny Tate. 17-year-old freshman Alex Twine, who recorded eight tackles in his lone start this season against Clemson, also re-enters the starting lineup.Maryland could use more beef in the lineup, especially as they go up against Virginia's massive offensive line, one that averages 306 pounds per man. The Terps projected defensive line starters average 270 pounds, on paper anyway.While touting the efforts of defensive lineman Keith Bowers, Edsall said the freshman was playing at 233 or 27 pounds shy of his listed weight.We know were not big up front, added Edsall, who is working with first-year defensive coordinator Todd Bradford on masking the deficiencies.Simply learning a new scheme might be reason enough for the statistical downturn, especially if players are tuning out the message or are resistant to change. Beyond the head coaching switch, the older defensive players are taking orders from their third defensive coordinator in five seasons.Its all about the guys accepting the scheme, said Hampton, the fifth-year senior preparing for his final home game. Guys have trouble adapting to somebody elses rules or somebodys different terminology of things. As soon as you get that out of the way, I feel like well be fine.Throughout the skid, Edsall has talked the talk of no excuses. However, only the harshest critic would deny the injury factor and a reporter if indeed being forced to play so many freshmen has been an issue during this thorny season.You know, I am really glad that you brought that up, Edsall said. I wish you would write that, because if you write it and say it, then I cant get blamed for it. Okay. If you want to write that, go ahead and write that. But hey, were going to go out there and do the things we can do and play as hard as we can play with the people we have.