Several days after Maryland quarterback Sam Hollenbach was pummeled during last week's win at North Carolina, his teammates were still wincing at the hits.
"Man, they were brutal," wide receiver Jo Jo Walker said.
"If it was me, man, I don't know if I would get up again to be 100 percent honest with you," receiver Danny Melendez said.
"Just to see him take any shots, it scares me," linebacker D'Qwell Jackson said. "I know he's not getting up as fast as he would if he was healthy."
Hollenbach returned from a separated collarbone a week ago, but with the torn ligaments in his left shoulder still causing sharp pains, he seems to remain on the ground a moment longer with each successive hit. Coach Ralph Friedgen promised to make pass protection a renewed priority in preparation for today's meeting with No. 23 Boston College, and so he and offensive line coach Tom Brattan worked with their inexperienced offensive linemen on understanding how to maximize their double teams and keep Hollenbach upright.
And for the novice viewer of today's game who would like to judge the progress of the Terps' linemen, Friedgen offered a helpful guide.
"If the feeding frenzy starts, you'll know they didn't have it down," Friedgen said. "That's what happened to N.C. State. [Boston College] got going, and it wasn't pretty."
Indeed, the Eagles hounded N.C. State quarterback Marcus Stone a week ago, recording a season-high eight sacks. They are second in the ACC with 28 sacks, and they feature perhaps the league's most fearsome defensive player in Mathias Kiwanuka. The 6-foot-7, 262-pound end seems fully recovered from the knee injury he suffered against Virginia in early October and was particularly effective last week, recording career highs in tackles (12) and sacks (3.5) and earning ACC defensive lineman of the week honors.
"By far the best game he's had this season," Boston College Coach Tom O'Brien said.
"Kiwanuka dominated the game," Friedgen agreed. "I hope he got it out of his system."
The same day Kiwanuka was terrorizing Stone, Hollenbach had one of his more harrowing games. Despite throwing for a career-high 374 yards, he was sacked three times and hurried 10 other times. He took the blame after the game, saying he needs to get rid of the ball quicker or look for chances to scramble.
But Brattan and Friedgen said all five of their starting linemen can do better. On some plays, right tackle Brandon Nixon had blocking help to the outside but was nonetheless beaten to the inside, rendering the help useless. On others, freshman left tackle Jared Gaither -- who has been extremely consistent in just his third season of organized football -- was beaten on the outside edge.
Hollenbach "can't be getting all those shots back there," Brattan said. "Obviously that's been a point of interest and focus for us this week, particularly given who we face."
Still, there are a few pieces of good news for the Terps. Boston College linebacker Brian Toal, the Eagles' third-leading tackler, will not play after injuring his shoulder last week against N.C. State. His replacement, sophomore Jolonn Dunbar, will be making his first career start.
Aside from the shots on Hollenbach and two costly interceptions, there is little to criticize in Maryland's offense. The Terps racked up 524 total yards last week, while running back Lance Ball surpassed 100 yards for the third time in five games and is the ACC's fourth-leading rusher.
Even Hollenbach's health provided some cause for optimism. Nearing the end of his first season of extended college action, he said he feels fine apart from the shoulder injury. He continues to get treatment for the shoulder, and by Thursday, he told Friedgen he was "as good as he's felt in a long time."
Maryland's running backs could occasionally be used to increase protection, but offensive coordinator Charlie Taaffe said his play calling won't change because of Hollenbach's injury.
"If he gets hit, he gets hit," Taaffe said. "That's part of football."
And with Maryland one win short of qualifying for the postseason, Hollenbach agreed with his coach.
"If you know a receiver's open or he's going to be open and you have to stand in there and take the hit to make the throw, you've got to do that," he said.