Bye Week a Chance for Terps to Recoup

After a slew of injuries, Friedgen and his coaching staff are relying on the off week as a cure-all.

Fresh off the team’s first Atlantic Coast Conference in their last eight tries, the Terps can now focus their attention elsewhere. Does anyone know where I can find an icepack?

The latest team injury report lists quarterback C.J. Brown, tight end Lansford Watson, left tackle Justin Gilbert, linebackers Ben Pooler and David Mackall, defensive lineman Marcus Whitfield and defensive back Desmond Kearse. But it’s football; everyone’s playing hurt.

“We’ve lost a lot of guys right now. You can’t afford to be without that many players,” Maryland head coach Ralph Friedgen said Wednesday after practice. “If we get those guys back, get them at full speed by next Saturday [versus Clemson] – that will make us a better team.”

In a shortened week of practice, Friedgen acknowledged he was taking the cautious approach, using a “quick whistle” with his team. For some players, there’s no whistle. Wide receiver Torrey Smith, who rolled his ankle blocking during the Duke game, sat out of practice. He was joined by linebackers Alex Wujciak and Adrian Moten.

Both Mackall and Kearse returned to practice, an encouraging sign for the defense. Defensive coordinator Don Brown admitted the coaching staff Saturday, distraught over the injuries, struggled just getting enough players on the field.

“We were fighting our tails off to put a competent first and second unit together,” Brown said. When safety Eric Franklin went down, Brown had to play true freshman Matt Robinson and move safety Antwine Perez all over the field to try and fill the gaps.

“It’s been a scramble. The good thing is we are getting those guys healthy and we should be practicing full swing. We had a lot of lot of those guys back today, and we should get another couple back tomorrow.”

Quarterback Jamarr Robinson also rejoined his teammates on the practice field. Robinson had missed the previous two games due to a sore shoulder. The coaching staff said he threw the ball well, and finally looked 100 percent healthy.

“I think today w as t he first day he looked healthy” offensive coordinator James Franklin said. “He could throw, he could run – he just looked very comfortable. That’s the first time in probably three weeks.”

When asked if Robinson would resume his dual-quarterback role alongside Danny O’Brien against Clemson, Franklin replied: “I think we’re going to have to.”

But just as fast as the Terps end can heal, they chocked up another injured starter to the training room. Redshirt freshman tight end Dave Stinebaugh will miss six weeks with a medial collateral ligament injury. Surgery will not be necessary.

“Losing Stinebaugh, who was a young kid and who was developing – I thought was playing very well for a redshirt freshman,” Franklin said.

A candidate to step in at tight end would be Will Yeatman, who had the cast removed from his hand following a broken finger. Yeatman’s steady progress is encouraging to Friedgen, and is a candidate for more playing time against Clemson.

“I thought he played a little better last game. I’m hoping he’s starting to catch on,” Friedgen said, conceding that missing training camp and spring practices impeded his development. “I usually don’t rationalize but I think that’s a major part of it.”

The next step: get him involved in the passing game. The coaches recognize his talents. And in a situation where the tight end position is thinned by injuries, Yeatman finds himself setup in a spot to succeed.

“I’m hoping he can really step up for us, especially with our depth at the tight end position,” Franklin said. “We’re hoping each week he has a bigger and bigger role.”

[Kicking Battle]

The Terps can only hope the bye week can also cure some question marks in their kicking game. With Travis Baltz assuming placekicking duties on a week-to-week basis, Friedgen awaits for his freshman All-American kicker Nick Ferrara to reclaim his job.

The wait continues.

Baltz was perfect on the afternoon, including one attempt that was partially blocked. Ferrara, on the other hand, failed to make a field goal from the 12-yard line.

“Missing from the 12-yard line to me is inexcusable,” Friedgen spelled out. “I’d really like for him to come out and be consistent. There’s no question he has a strong leg. I told him it’s not a beauty contest. We’re kicking through the uprights; it doesn’t matter how it looks.”

Friedgen acknowledged he wants Ferrara to win the battle, and for Baltz to be able to concentrate on his own craft, punting. On Thursday, they will have a kick-off.

[Recruiting]

Although there was no game this Saturday, it does not mean Friedgen was not busy. Friedgen and Franklin were on the recruiting trail, and attended two high school games Friday night and two on Saturday.

Friedgen said he and Franklin visited about nine schools last week, and he’ll need his track shoes on to keep up with his offensive coordinator for the rest of the week.


TerrapinTimes Top Stories