COLLEGE PARK, Md.-- Roman Braglio got home over the Terps football team's bye week to his family's nearby Carroll County sprawling farm, where they raise exotic cattle and the like
COLLEGE PARK, Md.-- Roman Braglio got home over the Terps football team's bye week to his family's nearby Carroll County sprawling farm, where they raise exotic cattle and the like.
For all of about two hours, that is.
"Yeah, I saw my family, looked around, checked out the farm, and then came back the same day," the Terps senior defensive end stalwart said. "My dad gave me a break from farm work for a day."
Braglio, like many Terps, is savoring the moment of a 3-0 start (and 'Brags' savoring all his final senior moments) for a rejuvenated Terps program heading into Homecoming on Saturday against Purdue.
"The alma mater (song) is playing over and over right now in Gossett," Braglio quipped of the Maryland fight song.
And all the Terps are savoring their time on campus, and in and around the new coaching staff, as the program has appeared to have turned the corner after a mostly five-year slide.
The 6-foot-2, 260-pound defensive end has seven tackles through three games, and a fumble recovery two weeks ago at UCF to further boost his spirits. The Terp defense is more than holding its own so far, but will be challenged this week by Boilermakers quarterback David Blough, who likes to chuck it around, and running back Markell Jones, who is averaging better than 100 yards a game for 2-1 Purdue.
Just as well, it has been nearly a month that Maryland has played at the home confines of Maryland Stadium, so even despite a banged up hand, Braglio is good to go.
He said the bye week was key not only in tinkering with the defensive scheme to address Purdue, but also further develop more of the young depth.
"They have a pretty mobile quarterback who can throw the ball, a decent offensive line, so we are going to treat every week the same: preparation, preparation, and that's what pulls out a win, the best preparation."
Jones, he said, runs hard and can break tackles, so the Terps must keep contain both on him and Blough.
"I wouldn't say he is as mobile as the UCF quarterback, but he can still move," Braglio said of Blough.
Braglio said he "has a bum hand," but spent the bye week working on his already solid moves as a edge rusher. He said continued work on getting on and off blocks, by going against offensive linemen like savvy senior Mike Dunn as much as possible, has aided him.
"It's a big part of the defense, keeping the edge, keeping the contain," he said of his own mission.
Braglio plays all over the line -- inside on the pass, outside on the pass, and outside on run -- so has a strong arsenal of moves despite being hamstrung this month.
Said Dunn, who he battles in practice and of his crafty, 'chippy' game at times:
"It's great to be able to go up against him for five years now. We have been through a lot. Five years against a really productive D-lineman in the BIG Ten. And he does everything well. I mean in the run game it's really difficult to move him, and in the passing game he has such a variety of moves that you can't be too sure what he does."
Braglio will welcome a fellow former McDonogh standout to the defensive starting lineup this week, as junior safety Josh Woods takes over for injured safety Denzel Conyers, who was felled by an ACL injury at UCF and lost for the year.
"It's tough, it's the game unfortunately, people get hurt and next man up. But everyone really cares about that kid....and we got to keep him up," Braglio said of Conyers.
He said Woods has risen to the challenge and has become more aggressive.
"He has to step up. That's also a part of the game, be ready at all times. It's his time to prove that he can really handle being in the starting position," Braglio said.
Braglio said Woods is very athletic, smart, "and really cares about football. I think he will do well."
Braglio can't believe it's his final Homecoming, yet it seems like he has been here a decade, given his many contributions at many spots on the DL, including nose tackle one season. He came to UMD as an outside linebacker. And he has always been a solid leader, telling senior quarterback Perry Hills on the field, after his shoulder ding at UCF, to "toughen up," he quipped.
"Unbelievably tough kid," Braglio said of Hills, who will get the starting nod again this week.
Braglio says the team mantra continues that no one will ever out-work them this season, and "we'll never be too tired. We have been saying that since camp, not be tired, not beat yourself, and that is what we did," of the win at UCF in double overtime.
Braglio said the bye week afforded a lot of the youngsters more work, and players emerging include NT Kingsley Opara, who had his best game yet at UCF.
"He has been dominating centers," Braglio said. "A big kid. Just manhandles people. And it is good to have depth in the D-line with the tempo teams that we have been playing."
Also over the bye week, Braglio said he caught some of the wild and wooly action in league play last week, "and we're into the real time now, the big-time now" with the B1G portion of the schedule beginning.
Best of all this week: returning home after nearly a month, and playing in that final Homecoming game. He said there is a little more buzz on campus surrounding the program, something the Terps hope to keep building on each week.
"It's homecoming, it's my senior year, so yeah, it's a big deal for me and my team," Braglio said.
"And I'd just say it's (the Terps defense this year) a mentality, the way we run to the ball, the way we attack the ball, we're just aggressive getting on and off the blocks. That's really what we have to do."
He, like many, believe the Terps have indeed turned a corner. And now it's time to show out in the league opener Saturdayafternoon.
"It's a good time for a lot of alumni to come back and see who we are this year. It's a good time to show who we Maryland Terrapins really are now."