Maryland struggling with string of injuries

Defense had five freshman starters in shootout loss

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The Maryland football team’s loss total continues to grow. So, too, does its injury list.

Neither is a particularly welcome trend in College Park, where the Terrapins matched last season’s number of losses with Saturday’s 56-45 loss to No. 8 Clemson at Byrd Stadium.

Maryland (2-4, 1-2 ACC) listed 10 players as out this past weekend. Five freshmen started on defense, perhaps for the first time in school history. The Terps last started five freshmen anywhere in their 1993 finale.

The available options might be even leaner Saturday, when the Terps visit Florida State (3-3, 1-2).

“We have some more guys that will probably be out for an extended period of time,” coach Randy Edsall said Saturday.

Who they are, the tight-lipped Edsall won’t say. Questions about what ails them are met with a reference to the injury report the ACC requires its schools to submit each Thursday.

Yet it was clear the Terps suffered some losses Saturday. Freshman Tyrek Cheeseboro, who became a mainstay on special teams earlier this month, limped off after a kickoff return. So did linebacker and kickoff returner Avery Graham at the start of the second half.

Of even greater concern is the absence of receiver Kevin Dorsey, who was not seen throughout the second half. Dorsey leads the Terps in receptions (29) and receiving yards (361), and has two touchdown catches.

These are possible absences in addition to offseason attrition, which saw 12 players with eligibility remaining leave the program, and other ailments. Five defensive starters from the opening week missed the Clemson game with injuries, and the Terps’ starting 11 on defense entered with a combined 87 career starts.

“Yeah, overall — pure numbers,” defensive tackle Joe Vellano said of Maryland’s growing depth concerns. “But we had a lot of young guys that stepped up and I thought played a real good role for us. I mean, it’s tough. The No. 8 team in the country, and last year they were playing against high school teams.”

Perhaps the most immediate help could come in the linebacking corps. Kenny Tate, who Edsall switched from safety, was listed as doubtful and missed his second straight game. The senior’s right leg was wrapped, and he appeared to be wearing a knee brace during pregame warmups.

Darin Drakeford, who was listed as questionable, also did not play. Junior Demetrius Hartsfield was ruled out after hobbling off early in the second half Oct. 8 at Georgia Tech.

However, Edsall cautioned Sunday the teams’ pre-existing injuries were likely to extend into at least another week.

“It doesn’t look like it right now as I talk to you today,” Edsall said. “I know we have guys who won’t be out there who were out there [against Clemson]. I don’t know if anybody will be back who was out these last couple games.”

And so Terps’ the injury list grows longer — as does their odds of snapping out of a 1-4 slide until some much-needed help is ready to return.

Notes: Saturday’s game at Florida State will kick off at 3:30 p.m. and be televised regionally by ABC. Maryland had not allowed 56 points since a 56-23 loss to Florida in the Orange Bowl after the 2001 season. That also was the last time the Terps yielded more than the 576 yards the Tigers amassed. Florida had 659 yards in that Orange Bowl.

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