The Washington Times - September 14, 2011, 08:52PM

Noticed an interesting tidbit in the Maryland notes that slipped my attention during the bye week.

The Terrapins used 49 players during the opening victory over Miami. For a team that was routinely playing nearly 60 guys a week last season, it was a significant change. The fewest players to appear for Maryland last year was 53 – against Navy, Clemson and Miami.

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But it was more than a one-year thing. The Terps had last used less than 50 players in a 2008 loss to Virginia, and had done so only three times in the last six years.

As a point of comparison, here are the fewest number of guys to get into a game for Maryland since 2000:

46: at Virginia, 2004 (L, 16-0)

47: at N.C. State, 2001 (W, 23-19)
47: N.C. State, 2002 (W, 24-21)
47: at West Virginia, 2004 (L, 19-16, OT)

48: Temple, 2000 (W, 17-10)
48: at Northern Illinois, 2003 (L, 20-13, OT)
48: Florida State, 2004 (W, 20-17)
48: at Clemson, 2006 (W, 13-12)

49: at Wake Forest, 2003 (W, 41-28)
49: Northern Illinois, 2004 (W, 23-20)
49: vs. Oregon State, 2007 (L, 21-14)
49: at Virginia, 2008 (L, 31-0)
49: Miami, 2011 (W, 32-24)

What sorts of things decrease the number of players used? Here’s a few:

* Close games. That’s the obvious one. When the rout is on, the benches often empty. And Maryland’s opener was many things, but it was never a rout. It fits in well on the list above; only three of those 13 games were decided by double digits.

* Depth issues. Teams don’t go two or three deep at a position when they don’t have the bodies. Thanks to some offseason attrition, injuries, suspensions and a couple shallow units from a man-power perspective, that probably affected Maryland a bit.

* Playing lots of starters on special teams. Maryland’s reliance on guys such as Demetrius Hartsfield, Matt Robinson, Kenny Tate and others on special teams did not go unnoticed. It’ll be curious to see if that was a one-game thing, or if that emerges as a trend this season. If it’s the latter, it will back up new coach Randy Edsall’s repeated statements of putting the best guys on the field.

Ultimately, it’s anything but a big deal based on one game. (Admittedly, the research wouldn’t have been done if 50 guys were listed as having appeared). But it is sort of interesting, and will be something to keep an eye on as the Terps venture deeper into their schedule.

Patrick Stevens