COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- Two years ago, when the Terps trekked to Middletown High School for a spring scrimmage and reserve running back Joe Riddle emerged from obscurity when he hung a game-best 120-yard rushing performance on his teammates, he was quickly dubbed the "Middletown Flyer" by the veteran media for his fleet and shifty feet that day.
Problem is, he hasn't really been seen in the Terps' offensive backfield since.
The 6-foot-1, 210-pound sophomore out of Linganore High School, who once reportedly clocked a sub-4.4 40-yard dash in high school, may be deep on the depth chart at running back, but he is making the most of his opportunities on four of Maryland's special teams units (starting on two), while this week he stepped in again at halfback, with a twist.
Simulating Wisconsin's nation's-leading rusher Melvin Gordon, Riddle provided a speedy scout team look for the Terps defense as they prepared for the nation's best back (174.2 yards per game) and team ground attack (343.0).
The Terps were mostly in their shell this week as far as media availability (only quarterback C.J. Brown was brought out Oct. 22, the final day of player interviews in this, their biggest challenge-week of the season), so, hey, what better time to put the spotlight on a yeoman special teams/scout team player, what with just about everything else said this week about the Wisconsin matchup Oct. 25 at Camp Randall Stadium.
Terps senior linebacker L.A. Goree this week called Riddle "the fastest guy I know," while Randy Edsall, during his fireside chat at the Gossett Football Team House Oct. 23, was singing Riddle's praises as well as the ultimate team guy.
"Joe Riddle is doing a really good job. Guys like that are good for the young guys. They say 'hey, I'm not in the two-deep but I am on special teams but I got to be on scout team.' So the younger guys see that, it's a positive in terms of those guy's attitudes and how they go about their business, given the look they do, and understanding what their role is."
Edsall said Riddle worked in well as Gordon, "and Joe does a good job every week. He is just one of those guys that works hard and does whatever he needs to do," Edsall said. "He understands what his role is right now: he has to be ready as a tailback, but there are no reps for him with the first few units and he is working his tail off down there every day."
Riddle has been named a Scout Team Player of the Week three times already this season.
Edsall mentioned that several scout team players/rookies were improving, and "learning to go hard all the time, and giving the effort that you need to give in order to make themselves better for next spring," Edsall said.
He said the freshmen are coming along and getting better, singling out youngsters like Brett Kulka and Kingsley Opara on the defensive line. He also said freshman tackle Derwin Gray is getting better each day, and Edsall still doesn't plan to play him this year, if possible. He also mentioned Nate Adams, the freshman reserve long snapper, who has come up big of late with starter Christian Carpenter nicked the last few games. Adams was a rare, scholarshipped freshman specialist when he signed last year to help at a need position.
Finally, Edsall said freshman kicker Adam Greene, who is still a walk-on, "is a guy that has really improved a ton. He is really kicking the ball well very, very well from a point-after attempt and field goal standpoint. He is so much better this year than a year ago. His hard work has really paid off," Edsall said.
Meanwhile, Edsall named as Scout Team Players of the Week Drew Stefanelli (offense), Mike Washington (defense) and Rashid Conteh (special teams).
His game captains this week are C.J. Brown (offense), Yannik Cudjoe-Virgil (defense) and Kenny Goins (special teams).
The flag bearers will be Goree (Maryland) and Andrew Zeller (U.S.).
The Terps will wear black helmets, white jerseys and black pants versus Wisconsin.
Edsall said the Terps have piped in crowd noise all week, as they always do even for home games, and said because of their silent count it should not be that big a deal. As he said all week, it's key the Terps get off to a fast start Oct. 25 at Wisconsin.
"To me, it's just another deal," Edsall said of playing at Wisconsin. "You go out there Saturday, you take a look and say, 'okay.' But when you come out right before the game and go on the field you are not focused on any of that other stuff, you are just blocking all of that stuff out. I am sure it will be loud and everything else, but again, the focus has got to be what happens on the field, not behind our backs or across the field in the stands or any of that stuff."
Edsall said sophomore receiver Amba Etta Tawo has been working hard "and it shows he deserves he has the right to play," of his three-catch performance against Iowa off the bench when starter Deon Long struggled. Edsall said others weren't performing as well, and with the competition they have, "guys have to go out and do it every day," and said inconsistency will decrease their reps. Edsall said there's nothing better than competition, and in the last three years the Terps have been able to build that kind of depth to do so.
"They understand now that this is a talented team, and if I don't perform I am going to be standing on the sidelines a little bit more than I was doing before. And they get that, and that's what life's all about, life's all about competing all the time, doing the best that you can," Edsall said.
Meanwhile, Edsall said that last week against Iowa, when he got very animated, he was walking down to get a timeout, which is within the rules. He said they lost 25 seconds for it, the officials arguing with him over it. He said he's never had that happen to him in 16 years.
As scheduled, quarterback Caleb Rowe is having knee surgery today, same for safety Denzel Conyers (ankle), while corner Daniel Ezeagwu (knee) had his yesterday. Tight end Andrew Isaacs is scheduled for knee surgery next Friday.
Randy Edsall's Fireside Chat
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