COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- If you thought Cole Farrand's 23-tackle effort against Clemson three weeks ago was impressive, think again.
The Terps' junior middle linebacker was not only playing with a club on his broken hand, but he made one of those tackles against the No. 9 Tigers after suffering a concussion late in the game.
"I had no idea I had that many tackles that game," said Farrand this week, maybe literally given that his head was spinning.
But Farrand soldiered on, to the tune of the most stops by a Terp in a game since 1990 when UMD's sixth-year defensive back Scott Rosen logged 30 at North Carolina.
This week Farrand, the Terps leading tackler (67 in eight games), is expected back for the Virginia Tech game, and he will be sorely needed against the physical Hokies, who have a strong line and a good run game. Last week the Terps' ‘backers struggled at times wrapping up and tackling the Syracuse backs, who ran wild up the middle to the tune of 242 yards.
Farrand not only brings it as the unit's best run stopper, but he has emerged as a real leader on the player leadership council after spending his previous year as a quiet, more reserved type.
"His leadership is one of the things that we really, really missed," said Terps defensive coordinator Brian Stewart this week. "His leadership and direction as far as making the calls on the field. We are anticipating him coming back. If you have all your starters in, you are going to [stop] the run the best. When you don't there's going to be second guessing. That's just how it is."
On Wednesday Farrand opened up like he hadn't before about just such topics. He was frustrated he could not play against Syracuse following the injury, but gave himself a clean bill of health for this week.
"Basically we got to….I think we definitely have to look at ourselves as a team right now, and what we are doing, especially after last week as I feel we are letting a lot of people down," Farrand said. "The coaches are doing their job, giving us a good enough game plan to get the job done, but the players haven't been executing.
"It doesn't matter if you are missing Stefon Diggs, missing Deon Long, we showed against Clemson we can play with the team we have now. We have the talent, and depth-wise, what we need to get the job done. Teams face adversity all the time and you'll see Appalachian beat Michigan and things like that happen. But it's definitely Maryland's turn to be the team that's facing adversity and picking it up and getting the big wins.
"I think we have to look at ourselves as a team and change the mindset, be more intense in practice, be more intense in meetings, on and off the field…. It's football and we got to bring it when we are between the lines on the field, and we definitely just have to take a look at ourselves as a team and get the job done."
Farrand said the leadership council discussed all week "that we are not accepting what happened the last couple of weeks. We started the season off great, and we have to get back to where we started myself included. We are very unhappy with what we are producing, and then there's a lot of things we can change. But we still feel that we can play to the best of our abilities and with the team that we have in right now. The players that we have right now, we can still get the win."
Farrand said it may be understandable if fans second-guessed the team after the SU debacle last week at Byrd.
"I think everybody felt after the Syracuse game that maybe the Maryland football team maybe wasn't that into," he said. "And it's a terrible thing to say, but we definitely need to pick up the intensity, show everybody that we are still in this 110 percent, and we're going to do our best to make sure that we win on Saturday and we keep winning."
Farrand said the council met and translated their message to the rest of the team, which has focused on coming together more as a team.
He said they meet off the field as well as step up on the field with their message, pointers and encouragement as well. It was a players-only meeting when they met this week. He said no one player stands out as most demonstrative as, "we all work well together, there is no head guy really that's monitoring everything that's going on. We all express our opinions and give each other an equal amount of time. It's definitely a council and not like a dictatorship."
Farrand said the nature of the loss last week meant "everyone has room for improvement when a game like that goes on." He said he will do his part this week. Before the concussion he had a broken metatarsal bone in his hand yet played on with a club.
Farrand said Tech has a more explosive offense of late, as seen versus Miami last week in a big first half.
"I am feeling good. I'm pumped up. I'm ready to get back on the field. And I'm ready to help my team win and I am excited to get down to Virginia Tech," Farrand said.
As for all those stops against Clemson, Farrand said he's never had a game, any level, with tackles totals in the 20s. He said his family was at the game and they asked him how many tackles he had, as they kept adding up. Farrand said he was more upset about the loss.
Farrand has excellent instincts for the ball and, "I like running downfield and hitting people. And I think that helps in the run game. And when you are playing and you think you are going to make every tackle, if you honestly believe that you are going to make every tackle, be in on every play, it helps."
Farrand said the CU effort was a team effort, with the entire defense coming together. In other games, and with the additional injuries, that hasn't always happened, especially against SU last week.
"I mean, I really don't think I was doing anything different. I guess I was just being presented more opportunities, and the D-line I think was doing a good job and was holding the offensive line pretty well," Farrand said. "And we were shutting down one of the top offenses in the nation pretty well until the fourth quarter got a little ahead of us. Everyone was working together, and when everybody does their job, especially the D-line does their job opening up the gaps for the linebackers we can go up and make plays."
As for his leadership, Stewart said he has seen real growth there from Farrand, a process Farrand chimed in on Wednesday.
"I've always liked to take the leadership role on the football team since I was little," he said. "I would want to be the captain. I love helping out my teammates. And I felt like this year we had a lot of seniors that left, and I as one of the guys that was returning and I felt it was my job to kinda step up. And I felt I gained more respect from last year being a starter. It's easier to be a vocal leader then when you have that respect."
On the third-to-last play against Clemson he got his bell rung. But it wasn't the end of his day. His 23 stops were the most by an ACC player this season and the second-most nationally.
"I really didn't know what was going on. I didn't know whether to go out or stay on the field and I stayed on the field. I played a few more plays and got another tackle," he quipped.
As for trying to get win No. 6 this week and beyond, and to a bowl, Farrand said:
"I can't express how bad myself and the entire team wants this win. I have never been to a bowl game before. I think that would be fantastic. It's something that I always wanted to do. I think we are really going to be working hard to get this win."
Farrand Ready to Bring It Against Va Tech
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