Taking a timeout from packing for the next couple days to pass along a story for tomorrow’s online edition about Maryland’s running game heading into its visit to Wake Forest.
Davin Meggett has a new roommate the night before a game. Gary Douglas allocated bonus time for just himself and his playbook, and tailored a new playlist to listen to in the hours leading into Saturday night’s game.
Otherwise, there isn’t much different in Maryland’s backfield besides the absence of junior Da’Rel Scott.
Maybe true freshman D.J. Adams plays. Ditto for Caleb Porzel. But either way, the Terrapins (2-3, 1-0 ACC) will probably lean heavily on Meggett and Douglas against Wake Forest (3-2, 1-1).
And that’s just fine with the newest Terps tandem.
“The way I prepare and the way I look at it is, every game I’m going to carry the load,” said Meggett, who will likely make his fourth career start. “Every game, I’m going to carry my part. Whether my part is small, whether my part is large, it’s unknown at the time. You have to prepare as if you are carrying the load.”
As well he should, consider he owns more than twice as many career carries (133) as the rest of Maryland’s uninjured running backs combined (55).
That includes Douglas, who aside from special teams work and garbage-time work against Rutgers last month had never played. Yet the redshirt freshman earned a look in the first half, and his place in the Terps’ backfield rotation expanded when Scott left with a broken left radius that will sideline him at least six weeks.
The lessons for the Durham, N.C., native? The game is faster. The players are bigger. And it’s vital to know an opponent’s personnel, from how hard a safety comes down into the box to whether linebackers are more oriented to stopping the run or the pass.
Hence, a week spent huddled with a big binder during free moments as much as with teammates.
“I’ve studied my playbook a lot more to make sure I have everything down pat so there’s no mistakes when I go in,” Douglas said. “But other than that, I just go out and work hard like I usually do in practice.”
Regardless of who receives a significant amount of work in Scott’s absence, they will still be running behind the same offensive line. The Terps have only two runs of more than 15 yards this season, and none in the last nine quarters.
That unit appeared to make progress in the first half of last week’s defeat of Clemson. Yet left tackle Bruce Campbell went down with an MCL injury in his left knee late in the third quarter, and the Terps sputtered with him out.
Campbell did not practice earlier in the week, and Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen declared him out after Thursday’s session. His availability would have expanded second-year offensive coordinator James Franklin’s options, regardless of who carried the ball.
“We’re limited by inexperience at running back now and inexperience at the o-line,” Franklin said. “We have to find ways to be creative and still also keep it as simple as possible for those guys. … Maybe if you’re the most talented team in the country, you can keep it simple, let the guys play fast and just overpower people. But that’s not the reality of it right now.”
With Campbell out, Paul Pinegar shifts to the left side and R.J. Dill fills in at right tackle. It’s the same combination the Terps used when Campbell missed two games last month with turf toe.
Indeed, Campbell’s injury could prove more damaging than the loss of Scott, who ran for more than 1,000 yards a season ago. Perhaps that’s because Friedgen boasted of his team’s tailback depth since the early days of camp.
Now, some of those less familiar names can show he’s right. Adams is an all-around back. Porzel is an electric option who could thrive with a small package.
Both will travel for tomorrow’s game as Maryland attempts to remain multidimensional without some crucial components.
“The two freshmen that’s behind me and Meggett, they’re players,” Douglas said. “Adams and Porzel, they’re good. So we can fill the void. No question.”