Backfield changes may very well surface Saturday at Virginia, but Maryland Coach Randy Edsall isn’t giving up any information other than changes hinted at during his Sunday teleconference.
Then, Edsall declared that Justus Pickett, whose fourth-quarter touchdown gave the Terps a 19-14 win over Wake Forest, and true freshman Wes Brown would carry the “heavy load” from here on out, but when Monday’s two-deep depth chart was released, Pickett, Brown, Albert Reid and Brandon Ross were all listed as co-starters, like they have been for Maryland’s past two games.
“That’s one thing we’ll take a look at again this week,” Edsall said. “I’ve got some things in my mind in terms of what we want to do and a direction we want to go. We’ll see what transpires this week and how guys go about their business, how they practice. Again, that’s maybe the direction we’re leaning, but we’ll see what transpires this week.”
Maryland’s ground game has lagged through five games, to the tune of a 2.2 yards-per-carry average that ranks, by far, as the conference’s worst. Brown is averaging 4.5 yards per carry on 33 attempts, and Pickett has a team-high three touchdowns. Reid served almost exclusively as a short-yardage back against the Demon Deacons, while Ross disappeared after an unproductive first quarter.
Couple with an offensive line that trotted out two first-time starters at Byrd Stadium Saturday and helped produce just 53 yards on 43 carries against the ACC’s worst rush defense, and Edsall is seeking that ever-elusive improvement among his backfield.
“It’s just that consistency part with everybody,” Edsall said. “We’ve got to get a push on the line of scrimmage, we’ve got to get movement, sustain blocks, receivers have to get in sometimes and dig people out. The backs have to make the right read.
“Again, I think when you take a look at the offensive line, with Mike [Madaras] in there, he’s just starting for the first time, Bennett [Fulper] is a guy who’s started, Sal [Conaboy] is still getting better fundamentally, Andy Zeller had his first start last week, then Justin Gilbert really hasn’t played for a year and a half.
“We’re going through some growing pains there with those guys playing together and meshing. When you add to that the young guys who are still learning, those are things that take some time. We’ll keep working at it, keep getting better, know we have to run the football. I want to be a physical team up front.”
After the season-opener against William & Mary, Edsall expressed his desire for a feature running back to fit within offensive coordinator Mike Locksley’s pro-style scheme. That seems to have changed.
“I’d like to have it where we really have three guys, but really two that carry the bulk of it, then maybe a third guy as a specialist,” Edsall said. “We’re getting closer to that.”
Until further notice, expect Pickett and Brown to serve as those two feature backs, with Reid as the specialist, although Pickett has proved himself more than capable as a third-down receiver on swing passes.