- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 22, 2011

Maryland tailback D.J. Adams‘ first touchdown of the season came late in the third quarter of Saturday’s 37-31 loss to West Virginia and a dozen days later than he’d probably hoped.

No matter. The experience wasn’t any less welcome despite the added wait.

“Those are things you think about for nine months in the offseason,” Adams said. “Honestly, not a lot of people get a chance to experience the end zone. To be able to do that and to be able to share that with my teammates is great.”

The Terrapins can only hope it is a regular occurrence for the rugged sophomore, whose season debut was pushed back a game after he was suspended for the Labor Day opener against Miami because of a violation of team rules.

Adams responded with a 12-carry, 64-yard, two-touchdown day against West Virginia. He could again fill a substantial role Saturday as the Terps (1-1) welcome Temple (2-1) to Byrd Stadium.

The return of Adams offered the first full glimpse of how Maryland’s backfield will function under new coach Randy Edsall and offensive coordinator Gary Crowton. Starter Davin Meggett collected more than half the Terps’ carries and rushed for 113 yards. Freshman Justus Pickett functioned as a change of pace. Redshirt freshman Jeremiah Wilson picked up two carries on third down.

As for Adams, he found himself in the familiar position of taking handoffs with the end zone within sight.

Seven of Adams‘ rushing attempts came inside the 20. The rest of the Terps’ backs combined for one run in that area — Meggett’s 20-yard touchdown rumble in the third quarter.

“That’s really the role that was given for that week,” Adams said. “I can see the way our coaching staff has things set up. You never know. The role may change from week to week. That would be my forte, as far as the red zone and short yardage but you never know. The role might expand.”

If it doesn’t, Adams still occupies a valuable niche he started to etch out late last year. After appearing mostly in blowouts for the first two months of the season, Maryland installed him as a goal line back for a mid-November visit to Virginia.

He produced three touchdowns against the Cavaliers, then added four in Maryland’s Military Bowl defeat of East Carolina. Over his past five games, Adams has 10 touchdowns in 31 red zone carries (and 50 carries total).

The same skill set the Terps’ old staff recognized — a punishing, furious downhill rusher with quickness and vision — is valuable in the team’s new offensive scheme as well.

“We kind of knew going into the season that how we used him against West Virginia was really how we were going to use him if he was there with us in the first week, but he wasn’t,” Edsall said. “Now what he has to do is continue to fulfill his role. As we see things, maybe he could get more touches in the up-field stuff.”

That would suit Adams just fine. The 5-foot-10, 220-pounder, who added four short-yardage carries in addition to his red zone work against West Virginia, welcomes any opportunity to move past the delayed start of his season.

“It wasn’t the smoothest way to start the season, but I think I’ve benefited from the experience,” Adams said. “You always hear you live and you learn. … I think I’ve gotten stronger from my experience. Even more, I just want to prove myself.”

He could repeatedly receive that chance to do just that inside the 20 — and maybe a few other places — for the next 10 weeks and beyond.

NOTES: Edsall said Thursday he anticipates linebacker Darin Drakeford to return from an ankle injury that forced him to miss Saturday’s game. “I feel very good that he’ll be ready to go,” Edsall said.

• Sophomore tight end Dave Stinebaugh underwent season-ending shoulder surgery.

Edsall did not provide a timeline for the return of defensive lineman Justin Anderson, who was sidelined the first week of camp with a foot injury. Edsall said the Terps “are not thinking about redshirting him at this point in time.”



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