- The Washington Times - Monday, October 8, 2007

Maryland’s formula for parlaying a string of tight victories into a desirable bowl invitation worked out rather well last season.

With consecutive winning trips to the high-wire — including Saturday’s 28-26 escape against Georgia Tech — the Terrapins seem on track to produce a rerun if only their depth will allow it.

The Terps (4-2, 1-1 ACC) reached the season’s midpoint with an identical record as last year but with far greater injury headaches. Coach Ralph Friedgen’s injury report yesterday sounded more like a complete roster rundown than a select listing, and the team’s lone bye week arrived at an ideal time.

It also comes just after an especially rough two weeks. Friedgen said right guard Andrew Crummey (broken left fibula) was lost Saturday until at least a bowl game and linebacker Rick Costa (neck) likely will be out for a week or two. Backup defensive tackle Travis Ivey will undergo an MRI exam tomorrow to determine the severity of his knee injury.

But achy bodies are not new for Maryland, which played Saturday without quarterback Jordan Steffy (concussion), linebacker Erin Henderson (knee) and reserve tailback Da’Rel Scott (high ankle sprain).

“I think we’re in good shape except for the injuries,” Friedgen said. “[Saturday] it was even more evident to me how hard we played. I think what we’ve got to find a way to do is get some other players in the mix because we’re just wearing kids out. They’re giving us everything they’ve got, but they just run out of gas.”

With only six reliable offensive linemen remaining, Friedgen plans to proceed with lighter, shorter practices this week in an effort to get everyone ready for the final six games. But the thinning roster produces trickle-down effects in subtle areas.

With Henderson and Costa out, Adrian Moten was left to play the unfamiliar weakside position and endured some struggles in pass coverage. Henderson and Costa were also the top punt protectors, and when replacement Cory Jackson suffered a laceration it left Friedgen scrambling for a fourth-stringer.

“Guys are going to use this bye week to get their bodies and legs back,” safety Christian Varner said. “We’ve been in a lot of headbangers against a lot of good running backs. We have had a lot of tackles and a lot of banging, so bodies are sore.”

Friedgen said he would have a better gauge on Henderson’s status for the Oct. 20 game against Virginia later this week As for Steffy, team physician Yvette Rooks has ordered more tests for the junior, who was knocked out of the Sept. 29 game at Rutgers on a helmet-to-helmet hit.

Time is not only an ally for the Terps to get well but for Friedgen to delay a decision on his quarterback quandary. Sophomore Chris Turner guided Maryland to two straight victories in Steffy’s place, nearly matching Steffy’s high completion percentage while also making downfield plays to extend the offense.

“It’s really a moot point until we know when Jordan is ready,” Friedgen said. “Chris is going to be the starter, and we’ll see when Jordan is back and how sharp he is and where he’s at, and then I’ll make the decision.”

Turner’s rapid progress has left the Terps in better shape than could have been expected considering their depth issues on the offensive line and at linebacker. And there is little question players ruefully view the Sept. 22 loss at Wake Forest in the wake of a blown 21-point lead as a game that got away after collecting back-to-back victories.

“I think right now we’re in a pretty good position,” defensive tackle Carlos Feliciano said. “I wish we could have beat Wake and should have beat them. I’d feel a lot better if we were going in 5-1 instead of 4-2, but 4-2 is not bad.”

Notes — Friedgen said cornerback Richard Taylor (partial ACL tear) should be ready to play after the bye week. His return could help spell Isaiah Gardner, who is battling a shoulder injury. …

Maryland had a package in place for freshman receiver and former high school quarterback Tony Logan to play in case both Turner and Jamarr Robinson suffered injuries Saturday.


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