Just a couple of games into the season, Ralph Friedgen could see the beginning signs of looming parallels between his current outfit and the injury-beset 2007 Maryland team.
The common theme only has grown stronger in the weeks since.
Three Terrapins players - linebackers Demetrius Hartsfield and Adrian Moten and left guard Lamar Young - departed Saturday’s 42-32 loss to Wake Forest early, another incremental addition to injury woes Maryland (2-4, 1-1 ACC) can scarcely afford entering this week’s date with suddenly resurgent Virginia (2-3, 1-0).
“Obviously, we learned two years ago when injuries pile up, it’s not good,” linebacker Alex Wujciak said. “I think the guys right now who have injuries, they’re going to play. Moten, he’s going to play. I guarantee that. … Obviously, playing football you’re going to get bumps and bruises. But we’ll be full-go for Virginia.”
Wujciak should know considering he missed that 2007 season with a torn ACL. Friedgen said Sunday that Hartsfield has two broken bones in his hand and will undergo surgery in the next two weeks. It’s an injury similar to the one Moten suffered last year and probably will cost the redshirt freshman three weeks.
Meanwhile, Friedgen said Young (shoulder) is questionable for this week, while Moten (thigh contusion) is probable.
Maryland’s problem is these injuries aren’t the first problems encountered this year. Cornerback Nolan Carroll is long since done for the season with a broken right tibia. Left tackle Bruce Campbell, one of the offensive line’s few sure things each week, has missed three games. The latest was Saturday after a left MCL injury prevented him from practicing last week.
Then there’s Da’Rel Scott (left radius), who is out until at least the regular season’s penultimate game. Punter Travis Baltz (ankle) has missed the last two games. Both Baltz and Campbell are questionable for Virginia.
“I don’t want to use it as an excuse,” Friedgen said. “When you lose your best corner, best running back, your punter, your best left tackle, it stretches you. It really does. You have a young team to start with, and all those guys are veterans.”
The succession of injuries is part of why the Terps have used eight true freshmen, a full third of the class that arrived in College Park in August. Tailback Caleb Porzel is the latest to debut, taking three carries for minus-2 yards Saturday. Friedgen said D.J. Adams still could play this season if that’s what is needed to win.
Moten’s replacement in the second half was true freshman Darin Drakeford. And with Young potentially sidelined, Friedgen said the Terps will take an extended look at massive guard Pete White in practice.
For those who avoid the growing swath of injuries, there is little gained from dwelling on the problems. After all, the Terps still have a half-dozen games left to salvage something from this season.
“I just try not to think about it,” quarterback Chris Turner said. “It is something [where] we have to make adjustments and we have to fill guys in, and it kind messes us up a little bit in things we want to be doing. But it’s just the way it is. I don’t think about it much. I just go out and do what they tell me to do.”
The Terps’ 2007 incarnation also pulled a bowl berth out of an improbable situation, winning two of its last three despite its ailments to reach the six-win plateau. With the ACC’s Atlantic Division a muddled mess, Friedgen remains hopeful there might be more than one postseason game in Maryland’s future.
“I don’t think we’re out of it,” Friedgen said. “Florida State has three losses, and everybody but us and Wake Forest has two losses. Wake Forest plays Clemson at Clemson this week. Who knows what will happen? We have to take care of our business and find a way to start winning again.”
Patrick Stevens has covered Maryland and other Mid-Atlantic college sports for more than a decade. You can reach him at email@example.com.
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