Last season, kick returner Torrey Smith broke records with his explosiveness. He tied the Maryland single-season kickoff return for touchdowns with two, and became the all-time leader in school history with 2,398 return yards.
This year is a new story.
A 17.2 team kickoff return average has the Terps ranked at the bottom of the Atlantic Coast Conference. And their 309 total kick return yards – second to their next opponent, Clemson, by a single yard.
Were disappointed with our production on kickoff [returns], Maryland head coach Ralph Friedgen admitted. Part of that is Torrey [Smith] not being well, but we havent done a good job of executing.
Smith has been hobbled by an ankle injury since the teams game against Florida International. Still, Smith has continued to make his presence felt. An eight-catch, 159-yard and one touchdown performance against FIU and a 50-yard evening against Duke are encouraging signs. However, the same cannot be said about the 15-yard kick return average.
We made a few changes [on the kick return team. One of the problems is everybody getting hurt. Last year, that was really one of our strong points. Its probably the only team on special teams that hasnt played the way they were expected to play, Friedgen said, adding that kickoff return was the main focus through the teams bye week.
Friedgen has also implemented a change in how his team practices. When the head coach reviews tape in the morning, he points out weaknesses and adjusts to what he sees. Overall, he anticipates a break from the norm can yield even better results.
Were really trying to meet our needs both offensively and defensively, Friedgen said. Some areas Im cutting reps; some areas Im not. Its not the same format for practice every day.
So far this week, Friedgen has been successful, saying he has yet to be disappointed with practices.
Tight End Rotation
With the loss of Dave Stinebaugh, who offensive coordinator James Franklin said was one of the most improved players for the team this season, the Terps will hope to get an added-boost from Will Yeatman and Devonte Campbell.
Yeatman has impressed the coaching staff with his blocking, and now sports a new cast that allows him the ability to catch the ball easier. His progress is well noted.
He really has improved now that hes been able to practice for about three weeks, Friedgen said.
Campbell, coming off an MCL strain, has also had about three weeks to become accustomed into football shape. The potential-rich tight end could provide another offensive weapon for the Terps quarterback.
If Devonte [Campbell] can come on and play like he did [Tuesday], we might be better than we were, Friedgen said, calling that practice the best during his time at Maryland.
Regardless, the tight end position needs to be productive for the Terps to continue winning. They got to come on and help us; if they dont, were in trouble, Friedgen said.
Keys to Victory
1. Force turnovers
2. Contain RB Andre Ellington
3. Establish the running game
4. Solid kicking game
News and Notes
* Travis Baltz will continue placekicking duties.
* DB Desmond Kearse is still dealing with an ankle injury.
* The quarterback decision will be made on game day.
Maryland Injury Report – 10-14-10
- courtesy of umterps.com
RB 20 Gary Douglas (leg)
DB 24 Avery Graham (leg)
DB 39 Desmond Kearse (leg)
TE 86 Dave Stinebaugh (knee)
Out for season:
QB 16 C.J. Brown (shoulder)
OL 75 Justin Gilbert (knee)
LB 42 Ben Pooler (knee)
TE 80 Lansford Watson (knee)
DL 41 Marcus Whitfield (knee)