Whether Maryland fullback Tyler Cierski plays or not Saturday after leaving last week’s victory at Temple with an undisclosed injury remains uncertain.
How the Terrapins would deal with his absence for another game is actually reasonably clear. They’ll probably do a bit of what they did Saturday: Use multi-tight end packages to put another big blocker on the field.
“Anytime you don’t have Tyler, it’s a blow to us offensively,” offensive coordinator Mike Locksley said. “He brings toughness. His ability to be able to run downhill [helps]. I think the luxury of having four tight ends and I thought going into the season it would be a strength.”
Matt Furstenburg is the most known quantity of the bunch, though Devonte Campbell‘s been an intriguing option for years. Ryan Schlothauer is among Maryland’s most versatile players, and the Terps also have David Stinebaugh back after he missed most of two seasons because of injury.
That bunch was already going to play a valuable role in the passing game as the Terps broke in quarterback Perry Hills. Sure enough, Hills’ first touchdown pass was a 22-yard strike to Furstenburg.
“Those tight ends, they’re great,” Hills said. “We have a bunch of good tight ends, and as a young quarterback I always look [for]. They’re a big target out there and it’s something I always look for.”
Some light might be shed on Cierski’s availability on Thursday, when Maryland will release its injury report for the week. Coach Randy Edsall did not provide a tangible update on Cierski on Saturday or Sunday.
But after remaining functional on offense with two tight ends on the field against the Owls, it’s not hard to imagine the Terps might try the same thing if necessary this week against Connecticut.
“We’ve been in that personnel group, and it allowed us and gave us some flexibility to get under center and run some of our downhill, power, pro-style run plays with a guy like Devonte Campbell coming in or a guy like Furstenburg filling those roles,” Locksley said.
—- Patrick Stevens