Maryland, whose passing game was most of its offense in its opening two losses, is working on improving the figures from its running backs as it prepares for its home opener against North Carolina State Saturday.
The Terrapins aren't expected to pass less, but Coach Bobby Ross said yesterday the team must get more production from its backs. "We won't necessarily have more running plays," he said, "but we need more than 2.2 yards per carry."
Against No. 8 Penn State and No. 15 West Virginia, Maryland rushed for a total of 159 yards and passed for 493, a dramatic reversal from Maryland teams over the past decade.
The Terrapins have rushed 73 times and passed 77, which reflects the balance Ross says is necessary. But he said Maryland needs to rush for an average of at least four yards and total at least 100 yards per game to keep opposing defenses guessing.
Ross said the backs will work harder on technique (such as following blockers) this week in practice. It's likely the running attack will be bolstered with the return of tailback Willie Joyner, who has recovered sufficiently from a bruised left foot injured in the Penn State game.
Joyner, who has suffered from "turf toe" before in his career, will probably be fitted with a special shoe to protect his foot. Joyner is the team's leading rusher, with 77 yards and a 4.1 average gain.
Also returning will be junior fullback Dave D'Addio, who has missed the last six weeks with an injured groin muscle. John Nash, the second-leading rusher, will start again at fullback, but freshman Rick Badanjek, a spectacular blocker and power runner, is expected to play a lot.
Badanjek, who rushed for a fourth-quarter touchdown against West Virginia, may eventually become the starter. "He didn't make any mistakes on Saturday," Ross said, "and in our offensive system, that's very impressive. He played very well."
Ross also said Greg Smith or Spencer Scriber could replace senior Mike Lewis at one wide receiver spot, depending on their performances in practice this week. Shawn Benson, a sophomore, may replace starting guard Len Lynch, Ross said.