Terrapins turn defense around

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But mostly, the Terps are just improved.

“I think everybody on the field is a better player,” defensive lineman A.J. Francis said. “[Defensive line coach Greg] Gattuso’s made me a better player. Another year with him’s made me way better than I was a year ago, and it shows on the field. The same thing for Joe. The same thing for Kenny. The same thing for Mete.”

Nearly halfway through the season, Maryland’s defense is from fluky. On its worst day, it gave 363 yards to West Virginia; the Mountaineers’ next worst outing in four other games is 460 yards. It has held four opponents to less than 250 yards for the first time since 2003.

And it is the reason Maryland takes a winning record into Saturday’s trip to Virginia (2-4, 0-2).

“It definitely has to do with coaching,” defensive lineman Joe Vellano said. “He’s got us in great spots, really making it simple for us. Coach Stew’s thing is he wants to have everybody play fast and when you do that, he doesn’t want anybody thinking out there so he’s got a bunch of good combinations of stuff that keeps the offense thinking. But everybody’s clear on what they’re doing.”

Notes: Edsall said Sunday he was leaning toward using sophomore Justus Pickett, along with freshman Wes Brown, in a larger role in the backfield. “When you take a look and see in the three wins, the guy who’s stepped up big at the end has been Justus Pickett,” Edsall said. “We’re going to talk a little bit. I think it’ll be Justus and Wes doing the heavy load stuff there.”

• Linebacker L.A Goree did not play Saturday after suffering a pregame injury.

“First time I’ve lost a guy in pregame warmups …,” said Edsall, who does not think the undisclosed ailment is serious. “He had an issue. We came out and they told me he wasn’t ready to go. That was a first.”

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