It’s total guesswork at this point in trying to project who will start for Maryland on Saturday at several positions. Coach Randy Edsall effectively swatted away every imaginable question about quarterbacks since Saturday, and that of course is the position that generates the most attention.
But over on defense, it’s unknown whether Kenny Tate will play. Same goes for Darin Drakeford. And Demetrius Hartsfield. If none of those linebackers – all opening-week starters – can go, freshmen would probably start in their stead.
Indeed, Mario Rowson, Lorne Goree and Alex Twine played nearly the entire second half together last weekend at Georgia Tech, and could plausibly do so again. (Of course, they might not, depending on the status of its injured veterans).
In any case, the Maryland defense already has 11 games started by freshmen. That doesn’t seem outlandish, until the fact the season isn’t halfway over is taken into account. It’s also already the fourth-largest total of defensive freshman starts for the Terrapins since 1999.
Consider, too, there was one five-year stretch (2003-07) when only three freshmen were asked to make even one defensive start for the Terps. Already, Edsall has started five freshmen on defense (and Twine would make it six if he starts against Clemson).
None of this banter is any good without a chart, so let’s wrap up the evening with a full breakdown of freshman starters on defense for Maryland since 1999:
1999 (2): E.J. Henderson 2
2000 (27): Mike Whaley 11, Curome Cox 10, Landon Jones 2, Scott Smith 2, Andrew Smith Jr. 1, Dennard Wilson 1
2001 (3): Dominique Foxworth 2, Randy Starks 1
2002 (3): Ricardo Dickerson 1, Justin Duffie 1, Shawne Merriman 1
2003 (0): None
2004 (0): None
2005 (19): Jeremy Navarre 10, Trey Covington 9
2006 (1): Barrod Heggs 1
2007 (0): None
2008 (4): Dion Armstrong 3, Derek Drummond 1
2009 (17): A.J. Francis 10, Demetrius Hartsfield 7
2010 (3): Bradley Johnson 1, Desmond Kearse 1, Matt Robinson 1
2011 (11): Keith Bowers 4, Lorne Goree 3, Titus Till 2, Andre Monroe 1, Mario Rowson 1