Maryland Had Few Answers on Defense

Virginia Tech tight end Greg Boone hauls in a five-yard touchdown pass from Sean Glennon over a group of Maryland defenders during the first quarter.
Virginia Tech tight end Greg Boone hauls in a five-yard touchdown pass from Sean Glennon over a group of Maryland defenders during the first quarter. (By John Mcdonnell -- The Washington Post)
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By Steve Yanda
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, November 7, 2008

BLACKSBURG, Va., Nov. 6 -- For two weeks, Maryland Coach Ralph Friedgen preached to his defense about the importance of shutting down Virginia Tech's running game. With the Hokies' quarterback situation up in the air, Friedgen figured they would rely more on a ground attack led by tailback Darren Evans.

Before the defense took the field Thursday night, Friedgen made one more attempt to emphasize how crucial a task it would be for the Terrapins to limit the Hokies' rushing abilities. Following Maryland's 23-13 loss Thursday night, Friedgen struggled to explain how Evans broke a school record with 253 rushing yards on 32 carries.

"We made that a real point this week," Friedgen said of stopping the run. "And we didn't do it, and that's a credit to Virginia Tech. They just ran the ball right down our throat and if we want to be a good football team, we're going to have to be better than what we were tonight."

Slowing down Evans was not Maryland's only problem on a night when it allowed at least 400 total yards for the fifth time in nine games this season. The Terrapins, who entered the night ranked 11th in the Atlantic Coast Conference in total defense, reacted slowly on defense, not only to Evans's dynamic runs but also to Virginia Tech's ability to find holes in their zone pass coverage.

The Terrapins allowed Virginia Tech -- ranked last in the ACC in total yards entering the game -- to rack up 400 total yards, 127 in the air and 273 on the ground.

Evans, who had runs of 50 and 45 yards, did not appear to lose any steam as the game progressed.

"That offensive line was very good, very physical," said Maryland linebacker Alex Wujciak, who noted Evans was stronger than he had anticipated. "They out-leveraged us a couple of times, and we missed some tackles, which didn't help."

Midway through the second quarter, Evans sparked an eight-play, 80-yard drive with a 50-yard run down the left sideline. His 45-yard run came in the third quarter.

"It didn't feel like they did too much adjusting," Evans said. "We just kept hitting them in the mouth."

Even when Maryland's defense attempted to adjust, it did not do so quickly enough. Near the end of the second quarter, on third and 13 from the Maryland 42-yard line, Virginia Tech called a timeout to assess its options. Following the timeout, the Hokies were penalized for delay of game.

After the yardage was marked off, Friedgen was forced to call a timeout of his own because the defensive call had not yet been distributed to all the players on the field. Out of frustration, Friedgen briefly berated defensive coordinator Chris Cosh along the sideline, a sight picked up by the national television broadcast.

"It was a big play; it was third down," Friedgen said. "You know, I don't know why there was confusion there. There was plenty enough time."

Friedgen did not linger on the subject, and Cosh was not made available to comment after the game. But the coach had another critical issue about which to worry. For the third time this season, Friedgen acknowledged his players did not respond to the game-week message he so adamantly tried to send them.

"I stressed it; we don't do it," he said. "Yeah, I mean, I don't think we tackled particularly well. You know, a couple of Evans's long runs, he just broke tackles. There were people there. They just didn't make the tackle."

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