Injuries Compound Other Issues for Maryland Football

With injuries decimating every unit including special teams, Maryland Coach Ralph Friedgen will have to get creative on Saturday against Virginia.
With injuries decimating every unit including special teams, Maryland Coach Ralph Friedgen will have to get creative on Saturday against Virginia. (By Mark Gail -- The Washington Post)
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By Eric Prisbell
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 14, 2009

In light of mounting injuries and losses, Maryland Coach Ralph Friedgen has promised that he and his coaches will consider creative and unconventional options as they attempt to keep a disappointing season from further unraveling.

"We have to try to think outside the box because it is not like we are going to change a whole lot of people," Friedgen said. "We are going to evaluate everything."

What those changes may include remains unclear because Friedgen declined to mention specifics, explaining that he did not want a reporter to post the information on the Internet. In any event, his options are becoming increasingly limited because key injuries are compounding Maryland's struggles on the field.

The Terrapins (2-4, 1-1 ACC) remain in contention in an unpredictable and mediocre ACC Atlantic Division, in which none of the six teams received even a single vote in this week's Associated Press top 25. But Maryland may not be favored to win any of its remaining six games and concern is building because injuries are taking their toll on a team that lacks depth at most positions.

Maryland is expected to announce a decision this week regarding promising linebacker Demetrius Hartsfield, a redshirt freshman who broke two bones in his hand in Saturday's 42-32 loss at Wake Forest. Maryland must decide whether Hartsfield will undergo surgery this week or next week; he would miss three weeks after the operation.

Hartsfield has been one of the few bright spots on a defense that has allowed an average of 36 points per game, which ranks 114th out of 120 division I-A teams. He earned ACC rookie of the week honors after an Oct. 3 performance against Clemson in which he made 10 tackles and forced and recovered a fumble in the final minute of a 24-21 victory.

Linebacker Adrian Moten, one of four team captains, suffered a thigh contusion against Wake Forest but will probably play in Saturday's home game against Virginia. The defense is already struggling to fill the void left by cornerback Nolan Carroll, a captain who suffered a season-ending broken leg against James Madison on Sept. 12.

"The guys right now who have injuries, they are going to play," linebacker Alex Wujciak said. "Demetrius, he's going to play. Moten, he is going to play. You're going to get bumps and bruises playing football, but we will be full-go for Virginia."

Offensively, Maryland has struggled to establish a running game with or without running back Da'Rel Scott, who broke his forearm against Clemson. No Maryland player has rushed for more than 27 yards in the past three games. The player who led Maryland with 27 rushing yards Saturday against Wake Forest? Quarterback Chris Turner.

Prized freshman running back Caleb Porzel played for the first time Saturday, carrying the ball three times for minus-two yards. Friedgen said Porzel and fellow freshman D.J. Adams could see action during the second half of the season.

An inexperienced offensive line has struggled creating holes for backs, and it has struggled keeping its quarterback upright. Maryland ranks 115th nationally in sacks allowed per game with 3.67 (22 total).

The Terrapins have tried to compensate for limited protection with quick passes, but success has been rare.

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