Injuries put tight limit on Terps' options

October 18, 2007|By BOB PARASILITI

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - University of Maryland football coach Ralph Friedgen loves options.

The more he has, the better. They carry over to his preferred style of offense.

But right now, Friedgen finds himself dealing with a limited number of options. That number is one, and it is making him feel a little uneasy.

Last week's bye became a drawing-board week for the Terrapins before they began preparing for Saturday's game with Virginia, which will be televised on ESPN2. It was a different kind of preparation. Instead of worrying about Plan A, the Terps worked on Plan B.

"We practiced three times last week and there were a lot of kids who didn't practice," Friedgen said Tuesday during his weekly media conference. "We really tried to concentrate on the younger players. The injuries also force us to concentrate on more than one game plan, which takes time and preparation.


"We have to have a plan for the 'What ifs.'"

The "What ifs" are basically contingency plans, and the Terps are forced to come up with three of them.

One is in case quarterback Chris Turner gets injured. A second is just in case Maryland loses any more offensive linemen. And a third is if the Terps lose another linebacker.

Injuries have taken their toll on the Terps. Turner, who started the season on third string, is now the starter with no proven backup.

More injuries have left the Terps with seven healthy offensive linemen to cover five positions.

And even more injuries have reduced Maryland's linebacking corps to three healthy souls.

"We enjoyed our week off. It came at a very opportune time," Friedgen said. "We had some kids that needed some rest and now they are back."

Then came the injury roll call.

Offensive lineman Scott Burley - Working through an elbow injury he sustained against Wake Forest. He practiced Monday and Friedgen said he hopes he will be at full strength Saturday.

Linebacker Erin Henderson - Missed the Georgia Tech game with a knee injury. Friedgen said Henderson "played (Monday) but is still not at full speed." He will be a game-time decision.

· Linebacker Rick Costa - Was airlifted from Byrd Stadium during the Georgia Tech game with what was thought to be a spinal injury. He is still out with a concussion.

· Quarterback Jordan Steffy - Still suffering the lingering effects of a concussion he sustained at Rutgers. He is still awaiting doctor's clearance.

· Offensive lineman Andrew Crummey - Suffered a broken leg against Georgia Tech, but won't need surgery. Still, he is probably out for six weeks.

The injuries have limited Maryland's options and opened the imagination.

"If we lose a second quarterback, that's a scary thought," Friedgen said. "You look at Virginia and they have 22 sacks. We have to have a plan for if that should happen. What will we do if we run out of linebackers. Then we might have to go to the nickel and dime (passing coverages) and try and hold up. They are all contingencies."

The biggest concern revolves around Turner, who is starting in place of Steffy. Maryland worked to prepare freshman Jamarr Robinson last week for "what if."

"Robinson was getting equal snaps to Chris," Friedgen said. "He's progressing, but he's a ways away. We might have to have him get in there and play if we are planning to be successful. The more reps he gets, the better he will be down the road."

The Terps are taking the same approach with a number of other young players, giving them practice time with hopes they will develop to be used in a pinch now and to be better players in the future.

The problem is that working the young players takes valuable time away from preparing for games like Virginia.

"You have to have a plan," Friedgen said. "The problem is that if it happens, you want the replacement to know what's going on, but you are depending on the other players out there to know what they are doing."

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