QB Chris Turner Is Carrying Maryland's Rushing Attack

Quarterback Chris Turner was Maryland's leading rusher against Wake Forest.
Quarterback Chris Turner was Maryland's leading rusher against Wake Forest. (By Mark Gail -- The Washington Post)
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By Eric Prisbell
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, October 15, 2009

An unlikely player has emerged as Maryland's most effective available option to run the ball: quarterback Chris Turner.

Excluding yardage lost on sacks, Turner is averaging 3.5 yards per carry, which is better than that of any healthy Terrapins running back now that Da'Rel Scott is sidelined for the foreseeable future with a broken forearm.

"I think it adds a dimension to his game," Maryland Coach Ralph Friedgen said. "Not only is Chris doing a good job with that, but I think he's taking the runs when he can. I don't think in the past he would do that as frequently as he's doing now. He's come up with some big first downs for us."

Turner, who is not known for his running ability, had a team-high 27 net rushing yards in Saturday's 42-32 loss at Wake Forest, which says more about Maryland's offensive line woes than anything. Maryland, which ranks 105th nationally in rushing offense at 96.5 yards per game, has not had 100 rushing yards in any of its last three games.

When asked after Saturday's game about his role running the ball, Turner said: "I still feel goofy. But it is something that is working."

Coaches have faith in running backs Davin Meggett and Gary Douglas, and have talked up the potential of true freshmen D.J. Adams and Caleb Porzel for most of the season. But an inexperienced and increasingly banged-up offensive line has struggled to create holes for running backs and to protect Turner.

Among 120 division I-A teams, only two -- Miami (Ohio) and Washington State -- have allowed more sacks this season than Maryland, which has surrendered 22. Friedgen this week said he is worried about the durability of Turner considering how much he is being hit on sacks, hurries and rushing attempts.

"I am worried about everybody's health, especially with the injuries we have already," Friedgen said.

'Not Out of It'

Given the parity in the ACC's Atlantic Division, it looks as if the division winner will have no better than a 5-3 conference record. When asked Wednesday if he believes that record would be enough to win the division title, Friedgen said, "Who knows."

Wake Forest (4-2, 2-1) and Maryland (2-4, 1-1) are the only two Atlantic Division teams with less than two conference losses. Preseason favorite Florida State is 0-3 in the ACC for the first time ever.

Friedgen and players know they missed a golden opportunity with Saturday's loss to the Demon Deacons to remain in first place and create some separation between the Terrapins and the rest of the division. But this week they have tried to accentuate the positives.

"We have got a chance," Friedgen said. "I am harping on that every day. We are not out of it by any means."

Center Phil Costa called Saturday's home game against Virginia a "must-have," adding: "We still think we can compete with every team we are going to play against this season. It is great that we have still got that opportunity alive."

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