Pro(tection)s and cons

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It’s easy to see what Caleb Porzel and D.J. Adams can do.

Run. Hard and fast.

It’s easy to hear what the freshmen running backs can’t do.

Block.

“If you listen closely, whether it’s from the press box where [running backs coach] John Donovan’s at, or whether it’s on the sideline, someone is yelling ‘They’re in the wrong spot,’” coach Ralph Friedgen said today. “They line up away from their protection, which sets up an explosion somewhere on this campus.”

How often things go kablooey, though, is a matter of relativity.

It is no surprise first-year backs would have such problems. Typically, the game plan in high school is for them to run around the edge, and then run some more. If it’s a passing situation, odds are they’re not doing much blocking.

But college is a bit different. Even now, Morgan Green – the oldest of the Terps’ scholarship tailbacks by a year over Da’Rel Scott and two over Davin Meggett and Gary Douglas – is the best blocker of the bunch.

“How fast they get that is going to determine how much they have a chance to play,” Friedgen said of the freshmen. “If you put the ball in their hands, they’re not bad. They’re going on instincts. But you’re going to lose a quarterback if they don’t know what the protection is or who they have in protection. that’s where they’re getting screwed up most of the time. That’s normal.”

Porzel, though, represents an interesting case. Friedgen’s affinity for deploying speed (the relative underutilization of Da’Rel Scott in 2007 notwithstanding) makes it tricky to figure out if his limitations will mean he stays glued to the bench this season.

The weaknesses could be hidden with judicious use, either out of the backfield (imagine Maryland running Oregon State-style fly sweeps) or as a punt returner.

But would such limited work be worth a season.

“It’s a question of whether I want to burn a redshirt on him,” Friedgen said. “I have a feeling I’m going to play that kid somewhere, just because he’s so electric.”

Patrick Stevens

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