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Terps eager to face porous Duke defense

September 29, 2010

COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) -- If Maryland quarterback Jamarr Robinson needs any extra incentive to hurry back from a shoulder injury, all he has to do is look at game film of the Duke defense.

Robinson missed last week's game against Florida International with a sore shoulder, but the junior is practicing again and hopes to play Saturday night in the Atlantic Coast Conference opener against Duke.

The Blue Devils (1-3) have lost three straight and rank last in the ACC in points allowed. After yielding five touchdowns in a loss to Army last week, Duke has surrendered an average of 44.5 points per game.

Freshman quarterback Danny O'Brien played in place of Robinson last week and helped Maryland (3-1) score 42 points.

"Jamarr is still limited," Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen said Tuesday. "We'll know more about that on Thursday. He did practice (Monday) night, so he's ahead of where he was last week. We'll make a decision by the end of the week."

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No matter who starts this week, the Terps expect another solid showing from an offense that ranks fourth in the ACC.

"I think we can run and throw the ball on anybody, whether it be Alabama or Duke," senior offensive tackle R.J. Dill said.

Against FIU, Da'Rel Scott ran for a 56-yard touchdown and backup Davin Meggett scored on a 76-yard run. Torrey Smith caught a 68-yarder for a touchdown, his third TD catch this season of at least 60 yards.

That does not bode well for Duke, which yielded 27 points to Elon, 54 against Wake Forest, 62 to Alabama and 35 against Army.

"I don't know if we've got the attitude yet that we need. ... I think our defense needs to have some attitude and a little more confidence," Blue Devils linebacker Kelby Brown said. "I don't think it's negativity. It's play by play. Each play we need to believe in ourselves as players that we can make the plays we need to, and not be afraid to go make that play."

Brown is one of seven freshmen on Duke's two-deep depth defensive chart. That, as much as anything, explains why the Blue Devils have struggled so mightily.

"Their defense in some areas is even more inexperienced and younger than ours -- pretty much like we were last year," Friedgen said. "They're playing a lot of people. It's not that they're not playing hard."

Duke ranks last in the ACC in run defense, allowing an average of 5.2 yards per carry and 229.2 yards per game. Granted, those numbers were influenced by top-ranked Alabama's 315-yard total, but the Blue Devils were also pierced for 248 yards by Army last week.

"We've got to establish the run first," Smith said.

Meggett diplomatically suggested that Duke's D isn't as bad as the numbers might indicate.

"They had a few mix-ups and a few mental mistakes, but other than that they're a real good defense," he said. "They run to the ball well, they tackle well. If you look at the stat sheet, that's not the way they play. The points don't reflect who they really are."

Maryland's quarterback tandem can't wait to find out. Robinson can run with the ball if flushed from the pocket, and O'Brien is a pocket-passer with a deft touch. If both are healthy, the one whose strength is better suited to beat Duke's defense will see the most action.

"I'm going to play the best guy, the guy that moves the football," Friedgen said. "I'm not that stupid, contrary to popular belief. My job is to win football games, and we're going to do whatever we have to do to put the guy in that's going to help us win."

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