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COLLEGE PARK, Md. All of a sudden, the Towson game is a must-win.
After a thrashing at the hands of Temple, Maryland (1-2) looks to Saturday as a chance to regain the form they displayed in their season-opener against Miami. Since then, the Terps have allowed West Virginia and Temple to take commanding halftime leads. Head coach Randy Edsall hopes his personnel changes will spark the team to playing a full game of competitive football.
"We've played three games but we've only played a game and a half," Edsall said during his weekly press conference Tuesday. "I'm making changes to get people in there that are going to play with that energy and that excitement and that passion for 60 minutes every time that they're out there."
The problems only begin with the defense, which has allowed 905 total yards and 75 points in the past two games. Mountaineers quarterback Geno Smith gashed the Terps secondary for 388 yards, while Owls running back Bernard Pierce stomped past the front seven for a school-record five touchdowns.
Edsall inserted senior Maurice Hampton as the starting defensive tackle opposite Joe Vellano. In his first action of the season, Hampton replaced an injured Andre Monroe and posted five tackles and two tackles for loss.
Also injury replacement, Lorne Goree will start against at the MIKE linebacker slot with Darin Drakeford out, and Titus Till will take over at safety with Matt Robinson due to miss the remainder of the season.
The Terps now feature 11 freshmen on the two-deep depth chart on offense and defense. Goree and Till join fellow frosh Keith Bowers as defensive starters.
"It's an opportunity for people to play," linebacker Kenny Tate said. "We need people to step up. We have some young guys that haven't played and it's their time to shine."
An All-ACC performer at safety last season, was considered as a replacement for the injured Robinson. Tate totaled 100 tackles, forced four fumbles and had three interceptions in 2010.
After careful deliberation, though, Edsall decided against moving Tate to his original position, saying the move would not put the best 11 defenders on the field, a philosophy he's discussed since moving Tate to the STAR position.
"I didn't think that was going to be the right move for our team based on when you look at the big picture. You're making one move with Matt [Robinson] not being in there; but if you go and take Kenny and move Kenny there, now you're making two moves," Edsall said. "I feel comfortable that Kenny will start playing better and I feel as though Titus [Till] going in there, he can do the job."
The Terps will receive a boost offensively, as senior wideouts Ronnie Tyler and Quintin McCree will retain their starting jobs. Tyler and McCree were suspended prior to the West Virginia game for rules violation and reinstated following the loss to Temple.
On the season, Tyler and McCree have combined for 13 receptions for 82 yards and a touchdown.