Maryland football team wants to move beyond average results

By Eric Prisbell
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, October 22, 2010; 11:00 PM

Maryland's players and coaches flew to Boston on Friday with minds focused on the condition of redshirt freshman Pete DeSouza, the team's starting right tackle who remained in an area hospital after breaking both legs Thursday night in an on-campus motor scooter accident.

Operating a scooter, DeSouza was traveling westbound on Campus Drive near Cole Field House when a motorist turned left in front of DeSouza, university police said. The vehicle collided with the scooter and DeSouza went down. The motorist was issued a citation for "failure to yield right of way," police said.

The primary concern of coaches and players is the well-being of the former All-Met from DeMatha who was thrust into the starting lineup three games ago following the season-ending knee injury suffered by left tackle Justin Gilbert. Coach Ralph Friedgen offered thoughts and prayers for DeSouza and his family in a statement. A.J. Francis, the team's vocal nose tackle, tweeted that the Terrapins have to beat Boston College for DeSouza.

What will now come into focus is how the absence of DeSouza - out the rest of the season but expected to make a full recovery - will affect an offensive line already short on depth and experience.

Among the options: Promote backup right tackle Nick Klemm, a redshirt freshman, to starter; move R.J. Dill from left tackle back to right tackle and debut touted freshman Max Garcia at left tackle; or shift senior center Paul Pinegar to right tackle and play Bennett Fulper at center.

The 11th-hour reshuffling comes at a time when Maryland (4-2, 1-1 ACC) is preparing for a pivotal two-game stretch. The Terrapins believe it is imperative to snap their 10-game road losing streak, the school's longest in more than 40 years, on Saturday at Boston College (2-4, 0-3). Francis said the team also faces a must-win situation next Saturday at home against Wake Forest.

"We don't want to be 6-6; that's average," Francis said. "We didn't set out the first day of camp saying, 'Let's be the most average we can be.' We want to be great."

Through six games, the Terrapins have proved they can defeat inferior opponents - Morgan State, Florida International and Duke - and exploit uncharacteristic red-zone mistakes by Navy. But they failed their two road tests against talented teams, West Virginia and Clemson.

"If you just watched the film from last year compared to this year, I think we have improved," said offensive coordinator James Franklin, referencing last season's 2-10 record. "Is it as dramatic as we as coaches, or the players, or the fans would like? Maybe not. But I do think we're headed in the right direction."

Overall, the Terrapins have accomplished just enough this season to evade substantial criticism in what is considered a make-or-break season for Friedgen. Two wins shy of bowl eligibility, the future of Friedgen now hinges on a half season.

"We're 4-2. We have won the games that we probably should have won," Franklin said. "We've got to find a way to win some of the tough games, that's what we've got to do right now."

Unlike recent seasons, top-to-bottom parity does not define this season's ACC, and Maryland gets an equal dose of pretenders and contenders the rest of the way. Three opponents - Miami, Florida State and North Carolina State - are a combined 15-5 overall and 8-2 in league play.

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