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Bolston's move to nose guard bolsters Terps' 'D'

October 26, 2006|by BOB PARASILITI

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Conrad Bolston took the opportunity to put his foot down.

At 6-foot-3 and 303 pounds, that in itself can leave an impression.

But it was only the tip of the story. That's because after Bolston put his foot down, the University of Maryland football team put the hammer down on North Carolina State last Saturday in a 26-20 victory.

In a sense, all Bolston did was get homesick. He wanted to go back to where he felt most comfortable. He asked to be moved from defensive tackle to nose tackle, and in turn, it turned Maryland's defense into a dominant alignment.

"I thought I would be more effective on the inside," Bolston said. "We do a lot more blitzing and I would be more effective with the pass rush. It worked out well."

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The move made the Terps more dangerous.

Bolston made a huge impact in his natural surroundings. Maryland's interior defensive line was able to make a strong push up the middle, collapsing State's pocket from the inside. That forced the Wolfpack to protect the middle, opening up a wide assortment of blitzing opportunities for the Terps.

The bottom line was that Maryland disrupted the play of Daniel Evans, N.C. State's young quarterback, and made the Wolfpack attack one-dimensional, which takes away most elements of surprise.

"When the defense makes that push, it's one of the greatest things," said defensive back Josh Wilson. "One of the first things I do is go up and congratulate the guy who made the push. It makes my job easier if they get in there and makes it so the quarterback can't see my guy to make the throw. I was excited and it made me play better."

Bolston's change of position gave a whole new look to the Maryland defensive attack. The Terps changed to more of a 4-4 set to stop the run, but seemed rather basic on pass defenses.

With Bolston leading the charge in the middle, it allowed the Terps to take more chances.

"We usually (blitz from the secondary) but we just don't look as good as we did last week," Wilson said with a laugh. "A lot of things fell into place. It was a great victory and a great time."

The dramatic change might be nothing more than Bolston feeling settled in his surroundings.

"I wasn't frustrated; I wasn't playing to my strengths." Bolston said. I asked (defensive tackle coach Dave) Sollazzo last Monday about moving and he said they would think about it. I don't think they thought I would come through the way I did.

"It was something I had a feeling about. The defense got more of a push inside. And with the inside push, it helped our outside pressure."

Bolston made only two tackles in the game, but stats don't measure what he did for the Terps' defense.

"We talked to him about really pushing the pocket and we put a defense in that allowed him to do that," Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen said. "He got some great speed-rushing off the edge. I don't ever remember us being able to get the pressure we got Saturday with just four rushers."

The stand by Maryland's defense appeared just in time for the most rugged portion of the schedule. The Terps have games with Florida State, Clemson, Miami, Boston College and Wake Forest remaining.

Each of the "Murderer's Row" games will need the defense to show up in the same fashion it did against North Carolina State.

"We are working hard to put the pieces of the puzzle together and I thought we made a few adjustments Saturday that really helped us," Friedgen said.

The adjustments were things the Terps could see while playing defense.

"The move made (Bolston) more comfortable," Wilson said. "In that position, Conrad can't be blocked. If you are playing out of position, you can't be comfortable and you can't make plays. Last year, when I was playing safety, I wasn't comfortable. I was playing just trying not to make mistakes instead of trying to make plays."

It all led to another major step in making Maryland a contender in the Atlantic Coast Conference race.

"It was exciting to be out there with all the turnovers and the sacks," Wilson said. "We've progressed every game. Against Virginia, we got a turnover and did some things right. Against North Carolina State, we got more turnovers and got more things right. It's a progression."

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