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In good hands

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One of the burgeoning trends during camp is Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen talking up his many running backs.

If not Davin Meggett, then Gary Douglas.

If not Caleb Porzel, then D.J. Adams.

And it makes you wonder, just a little, if any of that will impact the total carries Da’Rel Scott receives this year.

But take a step back and realize Scott did rather well for himself last year when compared to the share of non-quarterback, non-team carries he received.

Here’s a look at how the Terps’ primary backs have done in terms of workload in Friedgen’s eight seasons:

YearBackAtt.  
Total  
Back Pct.  
Backups (A)
2001   
Perry21938257.3Riley (85)
Crawford (36)
2002Downs20846944.3Perry (72)
Allen (60)
2003Allen18645540.9Perry (147)
Maldonado (51)
2004Allen14434441.9Maldonado (138)  
Merrills (33)
2005Ball18934854.3Merrills (82)
Lattimore (58)
2006Ball17442241.2Lattimore (160)
Allen (33)
2007Lattimore  
21342550.1Ball (182)
Scott (14)
2008Scott20934560.6Meggett (89)
Green (24)

Scott took the largest percentage of carries for a primary back, adjusted to account for quarterbacks and kneeldowns in Friedgen’s tenure. Even with Josh Portis counted as a running back, Scott’s at 55.6 percent.

And that, by the way, was despite missing the game against Eastern Michigan last year and the first half of the Humanitarian Bowl

There’s three ways to assess this data:

1) There was greater separation last year among Maryland’s top back and its backup options than at any point since LaMont Jordan was rumbling in Byrd Stadium, enough that it’s difficult to see a substantial change this season (barring injuries).

2) Friedgen has completely changed his ways about divvying up carries and will ride a single back as far as he can go.

3) There will be regression to the mean this year in relation to Scott’s share of the carries, especially if Meggett is as improved as Friedgen says.

The answer is either the first or the third option. And given  Friedgen’s comments in the last week, it’s probably less likely that the first scenario is correct (especially since Perry’s 2001 season is probably the best post-Jordan campaign for a Maryland tailback).

Scott’s still good, and it would take an injury or some other surprise to knock him out of a starting slot.

But in four out of five years before last season, the Terps had two backs with at least 138 rushes. In none of them did the primary rusher have more than 50.1 percent of the adjusted carries.

The smart money says, with more established depth in the backfield, something a little closer to that happens this year as well.

Patrick Stevens

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