- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Maryland’s beleaguered defensive line knows what awaits it when the Terrapins visit Wake Forest on Saturday.

Whether the unit can clamp down on the run is not nearly as certain.

While the Terps (1-2) hope to move past back-to-back home losses, it is impossible to look past the struggles of the team’s defensive front. The inexperienced group was shredded in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s 31-19 loss to West Virginia, a period that could provide the best guide for opponents — most notably Wake Forest — to overwhelm Maryland in future weeks.

“They’re the No. 1 ranked team in the ACC in rushing and we’re the 10th team defending the rush,” Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen said. “I think you guys can figure that one out. They’ll probably try to run the football on us.”

The Demon Deacons (1-2) use two tailbacks, and both average more than 100 yards a game. Bruising sophomore Micah Andrews ran for 254 yards in Wake’s season opener against Vanderbilt, and swift senior Chris Barclay scampered for 210 yards and four touchdowns in the Demon Deacons’ win against East Carolina on Saturday.

Their presence could produce headaches for a youthful defensive line that surrendered 301 yards rushing to West Virginia. There are no seniors in the Terps’ line rotation, and only one member of the unit — nose tackle Conrad Bolston — had started a game before this season.

The group also lost some depth and experience when junior Rob Armstrong, who helped clog the middle with his 6-foot-4, 307-pound frame, was lost with a back injury before the season.

Still, the Terps have reason to be optimistic once the unit matures. Freshman defensive end Jeremy Navarre had five tackles against West Virginia, while redshirt freshman defensive end Trey Covington made nine stops (five unassisted) in his first career start.

“We need to contain and we have to play smarter,” the 6-foot-3, 285-pound Bolston said. “Everybody needs to be where they’re supposed to be. It’s just more assignments. If you’re supposed to be somewhere, you have to be there for our defense to work. That’s the essential point of our defense. Be where you’re supposed to be, and everything works out.”

Friedgen acknowledged yesterday Maryland’s front seven wore down from West Virginia’s relentless rushing attack, and he said he would look into shortening practices to conserve the Terps’ strength for games. West Virginia ran for 137 yards in the fourth quarter, much of it on handoffs up the middle.

That came a week after Clemson capped a rally from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit with a 38-yard touchdown run. The late-game woes weigh on the Terps, who realize they cannot continue to fritter away opportunities in the final quarter if they hope to reach a bowl game.

“If we don’t get things corrected and come together and start stopping teams in the fourth quarter, it’s going to be a long season,” junior linebacker David Holloway said.

Notes — Friedgen said true freshman Jared Gaither would take over at left tackle for Derek Miller, who will shift back to tight end. Gaither, listed at 6-foot-9 and 330 pounds, split time with Miller at tackle against West Virginia. Sophomore Scott Burley, who hasn’t played this season after offseason back surgery, will move over from right tackle to back up Gaither. …

Reserve cornerback Isaiah Gardner (calf) is expected to play after missing the West Virginia game, while backup kicker Obi Egekeze (right quadriceps) is likely to be out another two weeks.

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