Here’s something fairly new about Maryland: Concern about special teams.
The Terps haven’t had a punt blocked in nearly 10 years. They hadn’t had a field goal blocked since 2003 until Saturday. They possess a talented kick returner in Torrey Smith.
But entering the season’s fourth game, Maryland is still tinkering.
“I didn’t like what we did last week [on kickoff return],” coach Ralph Friedgen said. “Obviously, the week before was a little bit better. We made some changes there and worked hard on it [yesterday]. I think we have a chance to have a very good unit on kickoff return.”
There were some changes last week all-around, with Avery Murray added to the kickoff team. Friedgen said this week Eric Franklin would factor into special teams this week as well.
“I feel we have a chance to have a very good unit in all special teams,” Friedgen said. “We have two guys who I think are good kickers. I think we have enough speed to cover. I wasn’t happy with our special teams play last week, but I think it should be a strength and not a weakness.”
Some of its a matter of finding the right people for the right spots. Friedgen said injuries are a factor, and there is a desire to limit the number of units a guy like Kenny Tate is on.
But that concern only goes so far.
“If I have a guy who’s not a starter who’s equal or better than a starter on special teams, I’ll play him,” Friedgen said. “But I’m not going to sacrifice special teams just because the guy is a starter. I want the best people on special teams. To me, if you’re a starter on special teams, you’re a starter.”
—- Patrick Stevens