Maryland-Clemson postgame notes: Brandon Ross emerging in backfield

CLEMSON, S.C. — Even as the injury bug burrowed itself into the Maryland football team, the Terps’ backfield remained relatively healthy. Coach Randy Edsall was blessed with options, settling his quartet of running backs into defined roles. Wes Brown, for some time, was the go-to back, while Albert Reid handled short-yardage and Justus Pickett was a reliable third-down receiver.

Brandon Ross, however, injuries and all, was implicitly relegated to the end of the depth chart, even after beginning the season as the starter before a hamstring tweak derailed that plan. But the redshirt freshman has come on strong in recent weeks, cementing himself as a feature runner while Wes Brown nurses an ankle injury. Ross finished with 100 yards on 16 carries in Saturday’s 45-10 loss at Clemson, including a 44-yard burst from near Maryland’s goal line, by far the team’s longest rush this season.

Ross joined Brown as the Terps’ two runners to top the century mark this season, weaving through the Clemson defense, flashing breakaway speed on kickoff returns and on long handoffs off the edge.

“I wasn’t even really thinking about it,” Ross said. “Coach was saying just keep moving the ball, keep getting first downs. It feels great to finally get it.”

With an offense still slogging through the pains coinciding with Shawn Petty’s growth as the starting quarterback, Ross was a pleasant bright spot, and could provide some stability moving forward.

“He had a real good day,” Petty said. “Handling the ball, the was moving the ball downfield, having a real good day. He had the hot hand, getting around the corner, breaking tackles, that’s what we needed.”

>> Matt Robinson was very solid at safety in his first action since the West Virginia game. He had sat out five straight with a groin injury, but returned to have 10 tackles, one for a loss and forced Tajh Boyd’s goal-line fumble. That came after Robinson sat out the season’s first two games with a shoulder injury.

“It definitely felt great getting out there,” Robinson said. “Just had a lot of bad luck. Hoping to be out there, make some plays and help my team.”

>> Maryland employed an almost hockey-like system of line changes during its early possessions, switching from three-tight end sets to a more spread-out formation. Of course, the Terps only brought four healthy receivers, so this meant that Nigel King, Kevin Dorsey and Levern Jacobs were all shuttling in at the same time.

Tight end Devonte Campbell hauled in two of Petty’s six completions, double his season reception total, and caught his first touchdown pass, a 17-yarder that came shortly after Clemson muffed a punt deep in its own territory.

“It was bittersweet,” Campbell said. “I wished we had done better as a total offense. I wished we had more production. It was a good moment. As far as the whole outlook of the game, I wish we would have done better.”

>> Pretty cool to see Darryl Hill receive an ovation before the game. The former Maryland receiver was honored as the first African American to play in the ACC. He was also the first to ever play at Death Valley.

>> Clemson walk-on Daniel Rodriguez also got a nice ovation from the announced crowd of 76,000 after lining up to field a punt return in the fourth quarter. The Army veteran has one of the best stories in college football, and The Post profiled him back in August. Certainly worth a read.

Alex Prewitt covers the Washington Capitals. Follow him on Twitter @alex_prewitt or email him at alex.prewitt@washpost.com.

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Alex Prewitt · November 10, 2012