- The Washington Times - Friday, October 16, 2009

In what at the time seemed like a few minutes, Wake Forest rolled up 35 points in the first half Saturday against a shredded Maryland defense.

It felt even quicker for the defensive backs stuck in the middle of the aerial circus.

“It seemed like everything was just going wrong, and it was happening fast,” safety Jamari McCollough said. “Every time I turned it around, it was like, ‘Dag.’ ”

There were blown coverages and botched assignments, poor tackling and unprovoked stumbles to the turf. And while the Terrapins (2-4, 1-1 ACC) regained a measure of dignity with a decent second half in the 42-32 loss, the secondary heads into Saturday’s date with Virginia (2-3, 1-0) under plenty of scrutiny.

It was a particularly rough night for Maryland’s cornerbacks. Senior Anthony Wiseman was beaten a few times, and Cameron Chism - who had played reasonably well in place of injured senior Nolan Carroll - endured the roughest night of his career.

Demon Deacons quarterback Riley Skinner picked on him for three quarters, placing passes in just the right places to flummox the sophomore. Chism’s struggles also had a frustratingly random component.

“When you fall down, that’s flukish,” defensive coordinator Don Brown said. “You can’t fall down. What am I supposed to say, ‘Cam, don’t fall down?’ He knows he’s not supposed to fall down.”

Chism eventually gave way to sixth-year senior Richard Taylor, who entered late in the third quarter. Coach Ralph Friedgen knew Chism could use some support, and he remained upbeat with his player during an office visit earlier in the week.

“The biggest thing I don’t want you to do is get tentative,” Friedgen said he told Chism. “He has to pick up where he was two weeks ago when everybody was trying to beat him. Clemson was trying to beat him, too, and he hung in there, and he did a heck of a job. That’s where we need to get him back to because we need him.”

The overall performance was a step back for the Terps, who yielded nearly as many yards to Wake Forest (516) as the previous two opponents combined (523). And while the secondary was toasted repeatedly, there were systemic issues as well.

The pass rush applied some pressure on Skinner but couldn’t close in on him fast enough in the first half. Some of the problems were a function of an opponent like Skinner, who usually picks apart opponents when afforded the opportunity.

“With a guy like that, if you let him sit back there, he’s going to kill you,” Brown said. “It’s just the way it is. You’ve got to find a way to get to them.”

Brown said Taylor, who has played much more on special teams than at corner in his injury-plagued career, received an opportunity to earn more playing time this week. Trenton Hughes also could be called upon.

Yet like Friedgen, Brown remains committed to his starters - and their ability to regroup will be crucial to determining whether Maryland can recover from its latest loss.

“We had a hole, and after the Cal game we were deep in the hole,” McCollough said. “Then each game, we started climbing up and climbing up, and at the end of the Clemson game we were out of the hole. Now we’re back in the hole. We have to climb back out of there.”

Notes - Friedgen indicated linebacker Demetrius Hartsfield (broken left hand) will play, but he said he will monitor the redshirt freshman and insert backup Ben Pooler if needed. …

Defensive tackle Joe Vellano, who has yet to play this season with a stress fracture in his right foot, practiced the last two days and could play some against Virginia. …

Left tackle Bruce Campbell, who missed last week’s game with a left knee injury, is likely questionable for Saturday.

“I don’t know if Bruce will be ready or not. We’ll see,” Friedgen said.

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