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Maryland's defense slows down Cobourne, WVU run game

October 07, 2002|by BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Last week was like a children's bedtime story for the Maryland defense.

"See the West Virginia Mountaineers. See how they run. Run, run, run like the best college team in our country.

"See Avon Cobourne. Look at him run. Run, run, run. He's the best running back in the country ..."

The Terrapins, though, added their own moral to the story.

"Don't believe what you read in fairy tales."

Maryland knocked the steamroller moniker right off the front of WVU as the defense smothered the Cobourne and the Mountaineers for the better part of three quarters while the offense showed it's own big-play capabilities in a 48-17 rout on Saturday.

"All week, we heard that WVU talk. About how they were the best rushing team in the country." Maryland's All-American linebacker E.J. Henderson said. "I thought we came out and stopped them. We did a good job to hold down a (Cobourne) today. We held him to just one big play."

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Cobourne entered the game on the heels of his West Virginia and Big East record 260 yards rushing on Sept. 28 in WVU's 37-17 win over East Carolina. It made him the nation's top rusher with a 159.5 yards per game average.

Add to it Quincy Wilson's 189 yards running and WVU's 536 yards as a team against the Pirates and the Terps were supposed to be nothing more than road kill in the 40th renewal of the border battle between the two schools.

But Maryland decided to draw a line on Mountaineer Field and didn't allow WVU to cross it very often.

"I don't think they moved our line of scrimmage. There were no seams for Cobourne to cut back on today," Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen said. "Cobourne and Wilson are both very good backs that we were able to contain today and I say hats off to our defensive staff."

Maryland used West Virginia's spread offensive alignment against the Mountaineers. WVU's attempts at option plays, end runs and sweeps amounted to the equivalent of running into a brick wall.

"We did a lot of film work and got a lot of reads to tell what a couple of their plays were going to be by their formations," Henderson said. "The front line got a lot of push up the middle and we contained them from the outside. We had a game plan and we stuck with it."

Maryland broke four big plays in the first quarter to jump out to an unbelievable 28-0 lead. WVU wouldn't abandon the plan to run Cobourne against the Terps, hoping for any breakdown to produce a big play.

"Maryland did a good job," WVU coach Rich Rodriguez said. They stalemated us more on the line of scrimmage than we thought. Obviously, I'm very disappointed. I thought we had our team better prepared than they showed."

WVU didn't run Cobourne on a dive into the middle of Maryland's line until the last five minutes of the first half. It resulted in a 43-yard gain, the tailback's longest of the game, and helped set up the Mountaineers' first score of the game.

But by then, it was 35-7.

Cobourne managed 123 yards on 30 carries and a touchdown for the game. But besides the first-half burst, Maryland held the back to only 80 yards for the other 29 carries (2.76 yards per rush). Cobourne rushed for 2 yards or less on 13 of his carries.

Despite the outing, Cobourne is still tops the nation at 152.2 yards per game. And WVU is still second in the nation at 313.6 yards rushing per game.

But Maryland's defense made sure the Terrapins came away with something more important.

"You have to give (Cobourne) credit for running for 100 yards," Henderson said. "But its not about statistics. It's about winning."

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