- Congressman: McAuliffe victory means gun control a winning message
- Hillary Clinton aide admits soliciting disgraced D.C. fundraiser; says actions were legal
- Joel Osteen church victimized in $600K theft
- Obama goes shopping at Gap as minimum-wage thanks
- N.J. woman charged after client dies from black-market butt injections
- CIA chief Brennan ‘determined’ to speak out more this year
- Reset? What reset? U.S.-Russia ties at worst since Cold War
- 9/11 terror recruiter released in Syrian prisoner swap
- D.C. elections board gives green light to marijuana legalization initiative
- Elephants can tell difference between human languages: study
Terps rotate young tailbacks to no avail
Running game continues to struggle
Name a way to inject some life into its rushing attack, and Maryland probably tried it in the last month.
The Terrapins cycled through three starting tailbacks in September.
They juggled their offensive line during their bye week late last month.
They sifted through several offensive formations, some by choice and some out of necessity.
And still, perhaps unsurprisingly, the Terps continue to struggle.
“It’s not one thing or it’s not one person all the time,” coach Randy Edsall said. “It’s everyone taking a turn, it seems like at times.”
For all of Maryland’s feistiness as it enters Saturday’s trip to Virginia (2-4, 0-2 ACC), it is easy to imagine its most obvious area of trouble emerging as a greater shortcoming as the Terps (3-2, 1-0) delve deeper into their conference schedule.
Maryland ranks 116th nationally in rushing offense, and the four teams below the Terps are a combined 4-19. Only once in five games has Maryland reached the 100-yard barrier on the ground as a team.
The Terps have ripped off only eight runs of at least 12 yards, with their four inexperienced tailbacks accounting for just four.
The longest run of the season was 21 yards; every other ACC team has at least one of 40 yards.
In that light, it is impressive Maryland has already surpassed its victory total from a year ago. Without improvement, though, that success could easily stall in the second half of the season.
“It’s frustrating, but when you’re starting young players up front and the middle of your offense — from our center to our quarterback to our tailback — we have some guys who don’t have a lot of game experience,” offensive coordinator Mike Locksley said.
“The thing you’d like to be able to do is find a way to run the football to find a way to take some pressure off the young quarterback. We just haven’t been able to do it consistently.”
After both of last year’s starting offensive tackles (Max Garcia and R.J. Dill) transferred in the offseason, the line was not an obvious strength. It took four games for Edsall to opt for a youth, plugging freshmen Mike Madaras (left tackle) and Andrew Zeller (right guard) in place of upperclassmen.
Maryland did not have the choice to wait in the backfield, where quarterback Perry Hills was elevated to a starting spot after C.J. Brown’s preseason knee injury.
There were no illusions about the youth of the tailbacks; the Terps’ top four contenders at that position owned 74 career carries entering the season.
All belonged to Justus Pickett, a sophomore who the staff trusted enough to handle carries in the fourth quarter of all three victories. Pickett, however, averages only 3 yards a carry. Of the three freshmen in the rotation, only Wes Brown (4.5 per carry) is better.
“Every running back back there is [a sophomore] or younger,” right tackle Justin Gilbert said. “We don’t have a Da’Rel Scott or a Davin Meggett back there that’s been running the ball for four years for us.”
Perhaps Maryland already has a future stalwart rusher on its roster. Nonetheless, there does not appear to be an immediate fix to the running game’s problems.
It hasn’t taken a severe toll on the Terps yet. That doesn’t mean that it won’t even as Edsall acknowledged his green offense probably won’t blossom overnight.
Note: Kicker Nick Ferrara (hip) will miss the rest of the season and leave the program at season’s end rather than pursue a fifth year with the Terps.
Ferrara is on track to graduate in December and could transfer elsewhere and become immediately eligible next year if he’s healthy.
Ferrara ranks ninth in school history with 30 career field goals.
“He’s going to finish his schoolwork and then come December — he doesn’t know if he’s going to be able to continue to kick anyhow,” Edsall said. “What he’s going to do is explore his options. It was a mutual discussion. We’re going to do everything we can to get him graduated and he’ll move on from there.”
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Patrick Stevens has covered Maryland and other Mid-Atlantic college sports for more than a decade. You can reach him at email@example.com.
- George Mason's defense dissipates in 84-74 loss to Northeastern
- Maryland's Pe'Shon Howard willing to let others put ball in the basket
- At 7-5, George Mason looks on the bright side entering CAA play
- Terps beat IUPUI, set for ACC after final tuneup
- Maryland's Jake Layman shows signs of progress in freshman season
Latest Blog Entries
By Tom Harris
Climate science is no more 'settled' than the ever-changing climate itself
- House Democrats trying to force unemployment insurance vote
- Kim Jong-un calls for execution of 33 Christians
- Redskins bypass big splash - for now - as free agency period begins
- FCC targets black conservative in TV station fight
- Hillary Clinton campaign received funds from Jeffrey Thompson
- Atheists sue to remove 'Ground Zero Cross' from 9/11 museum
- Joel Osteen church victimized in $600K theft
- U.S. pilot scares off Iranians with 'Top Gun'-worthy stunt: 'You really ought to go home'
- Sharyl Attkisson resigns from CBS after months of talks
- CARNES: Kissinger's flawed and offensive analysis of Ukraine
Pope Francis meets his 'mini-me'
Celebrity deaths in 2014
Winter storm hits states — again