Terps Will Use New Linebacking Corps Against Cavs
By Matt Zenitz
COLLEGE PARK -- In hopes of shoring up what has been a porous run defense for most the season, especially during the past several weeks, Maryland coach Randy Edsall has shuffled around the Terrapins' linebacking corps.
Junior Demetrius Hartsfield, expected back after missing the last two games with a leg injury, will reclaim his spot in the middle, while junior Darin Drakeford will move from the WILL (weak-side) to the STAR, a hybrid safety-linebacker position, and true freshman Alex Twine will take over for Drakeford at the WILL.
Redshirt freshman Lorne Goree had started five of the last six games at middle linebacker while fellow redshirt freshman Mario Rowson had started the last four games at the STAR, but Edsall said Hartsfield, Drakeford and Twine gave Maryland's defense the best opportunity this week against Virginia.
"With some of the production, or lack of production, that we've had at two of those positions," Edsall said, "we felt this would be the best way to go based on what we've been able to evaluate of all five of those young men."
The Terrapins' run defense is ranked 118th nationally -- out of 120 teams -- allowing nearly 235 rushing yards per game. Maryland surrendered a season-worst 372 rushing yards amid Saturday's 28-17 loss to Boston College, during which it also yielded four scores on the ground.
The Terrapins have surrendered multiple rushing scores during seven of their eight games, including four during each of their last two, but Edsall said he hoped the combination of Hartsfield, Drakeford and Twine, which he said would provide Maryland's defense with a little more physicality, would help the Terrapins do a better job against the run against Virginia.
The Cavaliers (5-3, 2-2 ACC) are the ACC's third-ranked rushing offense.
But, like Edsall, senior defensive lineman Maurice Hampton expressed confidence in the Terrapins' new-look linebacking corps' ability to help the Terrapins improve against the run, starting with Virginia.
Hartsfield, a three-year starter, had 51 tackles, including 3.5 for a loss and sack, during the Terrapins' first five games. Drakeford, who has also missed time because of injury, has double-digit tackles during two of the four games he has played in. Twine, who been mostly relegated to special teams, had eight tackles in his lone career start to this point against Clemson Oct. 15.
"It's a great combination," Hampton said. "They're all pretty talented, and I feel like we're going to have a good week [against Virginia] with those three."
Posted Nov. 3, 2011