Terps Dealing with Own OL Struggles

There's been a lot of talk all season surrounding the unproductive play of Clemson's offensive line. However, just as it seems the line for the Tigers is coming around, Maryland has done the opposite with its line and gone from good to very suspect.

Terrapins starting senior guard Andrew Crummey, a preseason All-American, has a fractured leg and is shelved indefinitely. Also, Maryland lost starting left guard Jaimie Thomas likely for the season when he fractured his fibula in the first quarter against Virginia last week.

In a matter of one week, Maryland went from being pretty solid to shaky, while the Tigers went from bad to giving hope for massive improvement after flip-flopping guard Thomas Austin and center Barry Humphries.

"We had a very good offensive line with Andrew Crummey and Jaimie Thomas and now that Phil Costa and Jack Griffin have to play every down we are losing are flexibility," Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen said. "We are going to have to start playing some younger kids that have to play one position, and that limits us."

With the injuries, Maryland and Friedgen are being forced to dip deep into the depths of the roster to find enough players capable of handling the duties of blocking 300-pound defensive linemen.

It hasn't been an easy search as very young players and walk-ons are being called upon to produce.

"A lot of it isn't mental. It's physical," Friedgen said. "I think when I put them into the game they will know what to do for the most part, but it's whether they are going to be able to match up with the people they are going to have to play against. I think this could help us in the future, with younger guys getting more practice and playing time."

Senior running back Keon Lattimore said despite all the moves, he thinks the team shouldn't miss a beat on offense.

"That's just part of the game, it comes with the territory when you play football; you get injuries," he said. "That's why you recruit younger guys and now a couple of the guys who were going to redshirt are going to have to step in and fill in the roles of the injured players. I have 100 percent confidence that these guys they can step in and get it done so we just have to game plan it and continue to execute."

Lattimore said the offensive game plan won't change, regardless of what players are on the field for the Terrapins.

"We run the ball so we are not going to abandon that part of our game," he said. "We are just going to go out there play hard, and play together and we will see what the outcome is.

"The backups are being taught the same game as the starters are, so why change up? They just have to fill those roles we are going to play our game. We are not going to change anything up. We might throw a few wrinkles in here and there, but we are going to do what we do."

Make no bones about it, Friedgen is still very confident his team will perform well Saturday and he expects them to win.

"We have to practice to develop the younger kids and yet we can't wear the other starters out, so I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place," he said. "But I think we can just keep on working, and it's my job to give them a good game plan and hopefully we will be able to execute the best we can.

"(Clemson's defense) is kind of like what you see every year from them. They are big, strong, fast, and they have a lot of players. But we have been able to hang in there with them and I plan on being able to do the same this week."

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