The Washington Times - November 5, 2007, 09:05AM

\ Ralph was specifically asked about the depth in the program, given how ragged the Terps have looked the last three weeks. \


\ “When we have as many guys injured as we have, I would think any team in America would have problems with depth when you have 85 scholarships,” Friedgen said.\

\ That’s a fair point. But part of the depth issues come from simply retaining the players you have. Maryland had 19 scholarship juniors last year. They have 12 scholarship seniors this season. And faster than you can say “Holy Attrition, Batman!,” here’s a look at who didn’t return:\

\ Tim Cesa, Garrick Clig, Wesley Jefferson, Brandon Nixon, Omarr Savage, Donnie Woods.\

\ Hmmm. What have we here? Three offensive lineman, a defensive lineman, a linebacker and a fullback who (if not done in by concussions) might have helped save Haroon Brown’s redshirt. None of them left a year early to play professionally, either.\

\ By astonishing coincidence, the positions unable to withstand injuries this year? Offensive line, defensive line and linebacker. \

\ (The plunge from 19 to 12 is complete when a couple other factors are considered. Jack Griffin redshirted and is still a junior, and Scott Burley got a year of eligibility back. Maryland also gave long snapper Brendan McDermond a scholarship this season.)\

\ But the really interesting thing Ralph discussed was depth at specific positions. After all, it’s already clear where Maryland needs some more help in the near future.\

\ “I’m concerned about running back after next year,” Friedgen said. “Obviously defensive line, which we’re trying to improve. Offensive line, which I think we have addressed but they’re not ready yet. We have some more kids coming. We probably have too many wide receivers. We’ll see how that goes. … Linebacker is still an issue, especially when we lost [Alex] Wujciak, we lose Costa and you don’t want to have to play [Ben] Pooler or [Derek] Drummond. It might come down to that with another injury.”\

\ The last thing the Terpies need at this point is burning redshirts in November to fortify a team looking less and less likely to play in the postseason by the week. Given the grumblings of even reasonably rational fans at this point, the next thing to get torched would probably be effigies.\

\ But Shopkeeper Ralph’s inventory of his Terrapin Team Store is pretty accurate. Maryland has 15 offensive lineman (just one senior) and 15 defensive backs (with three seniors in that bunch). He also has 11 receivers, none of whom are seniors.\

\ The obvious deficiency next year will be at tailback, where only three scholarship players will return —- redshirt freshmen Morgan Green, Da’Rel Scott and Pha’Terrell Washington. \

\ The easiest formula for disaster to concoct for Maryland in 2007 was “Offensive Line + Injuries = Lost season.” It was harped on in the spring, harped on in camp and it appears it will play out exactly to Friedgen’s fears.\

\ Next fall, just replace “offensive line” with “ball carriers” and the worst-case scenario will be the same. Book it. Neither Green nor Scott has shown a great affinity for staying healthy, and Washington barely remained eligible before this season. So you can go ahead and also book Friedgen wailing next fall about how his lack of backfield options hamstring what he can do, just as problems at wide receiver and offensive line put the shackles on his offense in 2006 and 2007, respectively.\

\ And in no way is that going off the deep end.\

\ —- Patrick Stevens