- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 9, 2004

Maryland’s defensive line is headed for a roundup.

Temple’s Walter Washington, who visits Byrd Stadium tomorrow, might be the most elusive quarterback the No.23 Terrapins face this season. The option passer, who one preseason magazine rated as the Big East’s best athlete, has run for nine touchdowns in his last four starts. He also rushed for 579 yards in five starts last season.

Washington isn’t merely a scrambler, though he rushed for Temple’s only two scores in a 44-14 loss to Virginia on Saturday. The junior completed 110 of 207 passes for 1,265 yards and eight touchdowns in 2003.

“We have to worry about scrambling,” Terps defensive end Shawne Merriman said. “You try to keep him contained because if he gets outside he’s dangerous.”

Maryland’s battered defensive line played surprisingly well in Saturday’s season-opening 23-20 victory over Northern Illinois even though four players missed much of the preseason with injuries.

Merriman had 10 tackles after moving from linebacker this season as the Terps went to a 4-3 scheme to compensate for having only one returning lineman, end Kevin Eli. Maryland rotated six players at the other three positions, and they made a total of eight tackles.

“If we’re going to reach the status of being one of the better teams in the country, we have to build our depth,” coach Ralph Friedgen said. “We have to put kids in when the game’s on the line and see how they perform because that’s how they gain confidence. The defense needs to do that more.”

Said Merriman: “They came through for us. It tells you a lot about them.”

Maryland’s unheralded defense led the ACC last year, but only four starters return. Northern Illinois’ offense regularly talked trash last week, which infuriated the Terps.

“It’s a respect issue,” Merriman said. “I’m going to go out with the intent to gain respect every week, and I won’t stop until I get it. Northern Illinois thought they were going to just demolish us. They were a pretty good team, but to say we’re going to get stomped by a team that barely beat us last year was not right. We have the same potential, if not better than last year.”

Bruised runners

Running backs Josh Allen and Sam Maldonado remain limited with minor shoulder ailments. The Terps’ top two runners are expected to play against Temple.

Allen had 102 yards and one touchdown against Northern Illinois, while Maldonado added 84 yards and one touchdown. Their styles differ so greatly that opponents have trouble adjusting.

“They complement each other,” Friedgen said. “Sammy is more of a hard-nose runner. Josh will try to make you miss. We always like to keep a fresh guy in the game, so they’ll both play around 50 percent of the time.”

Maldonado thrives on short-yardage physical runs with a fullback’s mentality. Teammates nicknamed Maldonado “The Bull,” while Allen joked of being “The Unknown.”

“I can either run away from you or make one move and run you over,” Maldonado said. “I’d rather run somebody over and embarrass somebody.”

Extra points

Guard Russell Bonham will undergo an MRI on his knee today, with Andrew Crummey due to start against Temple. Offensive tackle Stephon Heyer (ankle) is probable. … The opening song at practice yesterday was Elton John’s “Philadelphia Freedom” in honor of Temple. … Maryland plays Temple at Lincoln Financial Field next Sept. 10 to complete the home-and-home series.

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