Latest Terps depth chart changes reflect injuries to linebacking corps

October 15, 2013

Randy Edsall and Maryland will move forward with Alex Twine at “Sam” linebacker. (Getty Images)

Catching up on the latest Maryland football team’s two-deep depth chart, released Monday night:

>> Junior Alex Twine officially becomes the starting “Sam” outside linebacker with Matt Robinson sidelined for three to four weeks with a rotator cuff injury. Twine started against Virginia on Saturday and finished with nine tackles, tied for third on the team. Robinson’s should return sometime during Maryland’s second bye week, so Twine’s starting role could last two games — at Wake Forest on Saturday and Clemson the following weekend.

Ordinarily a special teams guru tasked with barreling towards the opposing return man, Twine struggled with defending Virginia tight end Jake McGee across the middle, but a full week working with the starting unit should help.

>> Given Yannik Cudjoe-Virgil’s season-ending pectoralis muscle tear, Yannick Ngakoue cracked the two-deep and moved into Cudjoe-Virgil’s backup “Sam” linebacker role behind Marcus Whitfield. Cudjoe-Virgil was Maryland’s second-best edge blitzer this season, racking up 3.5 sacks and 18 tackles in five full games this season before incurring the injury early against Virginia.

While appearing in all six games this season, mostly on special teams, Ngakoue has recorded just one career tackle. He’s a former Under Armour all-American and five-star recruit from Friendship Academy in Washington D.C.

>> Behind Twine, true freshman Cavon Walker moves into a backup role. He, like Ngakoue, has played all six games this season. A mammoth 6-feet-2 and 229 pounds, Walker has collected six tackles this season and clearly earned the confidence of the coaching staff to assume the backup spot.

“They’re young,” Coach Randy Edsall said Sunday of Walker and Ngakoue. “They’re getting experience. They’re learning on the go. They got to understand how important fundamentals and technique are to playing the position. They’re working hard, trying to get better and making improvements. But they’re still freshmen. They’ll be good players here as long as they keep working and keep understanding it’s all about technique and fundamentals.”

>> True freshman Will Likely switched places with Stefon Diggs at punt returner, formally moving into the starting spot he’s held for weeks. Diggs has returned just two punts for minus-one yards this season, with Likely handling most opportunities despite some issues with fumbles.

>> No surprise here, but quarterback C.J. Brown remains the team’s starter. He was listed as the first-stringer last week and warmed up with his teammates but missed the 27-26 win over the Cavs with a concussion. Doctors cleared Brown to practice this week and he is expected to start at Wake Forest.

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 | October 15, 2013