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Terps plugging holes in 'D'

November 12, 2008|By BOB PARASILITI

The University of Maryland football team is trying to recover from a run-down feeling.

The Terrapins suffered from an emotional hangover after losing 23-13 at Virginia Tech last Thursday. Maryland was woozy and temperamental after losing the No. 23 ranking and first place in the Atlantic Coast Conference's Atlantic Division in one fell swoop.

Dealing with the physical aspect of the condition might be tougher, though. The reason the Terps feel rundown is because they were.

Virginia Tech ran for 273 yards against the Terps' defense. That included 256 yards by running back Darren Evans, who did more than 200 yards of the damage running straight up the middle.

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"There were five or six plays that we didn't defend well," said Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen at the weekly media conference. "Some were because we got blocked. Some were because we weren't physical enough and some came because guys were nicked up and playing."

Evans didn't score, but he did set up the majority of the two touchdowns and three field goals that Virginia Tech had to get the win. That allowed the Hokies to hold a 12-minute edge in the time of possession, which kept Maryland's defense on the field and the offense off.

The amount of yardage Evans gained was disturbing enough, but the fact it was up the middle -- which is the home of power football -- was shocking, especially since the Terps had only allowed 131.1 yards rushing per game in the first eight games.

"We have to correct that," Friedgen said. "There were five plays that Virginia Tech got 150 yards on."

Maryland used the extra time out to try and shuffle the defense for two reasons. First, the Terrapins will be facing No. 17 North Carolina this week, a team which has another strong running game.

Secondly, Maryland will be trying to cover the hole created when linebacker-defensive end Rick Costa was suspended from the team because of an off-campus incident.

"We are aware of an off-campus incident involving Rick Costa this past weekend," Friedgen said in a statement released by the athletic department. "Due to the nature of the charges, Rick has been indefinitely suspended from all team activities, including practice and game participation. Once the issue has been resolved, Rick's status with the team will be re-evaluated."

To combat both problems, Maryland will be shuffling its defensive line, trying to put their strengths on the field.

The Terps will be starting Travis Ivey at defensive end and will move Jeremy Navarre to the defensive end slot while Dion Armstrong will start at nose tackle. Trey Covington will remain the main LEO -- the same position Costa played.

"We are trying to let our best three lineman be on the field all at the same time," Friedgen said. "Jeremy can move back inside if we need him. Mack Frost still isn't 100 percent yet. We got him in for 18-20 plays. We got some guys who are beat up. They can play, but they have these nagging injuries."

Friedgen admitted that the Virginia Tech wasn't exactly the defining moment for Maryland's defense. He's hoping it isn't a trend.

"This is going to be a physical game," Friedgen said. "We need our best people in there to man up. We didn't play very well last week. But we played well against Wake Forest, California and in the second half of the Clemson game. We have to get back to that."

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