COLLEGE PARK - The linebacker position was Maryland's strength at the end of 2000. It still is, but the grip on that claim has loosened.
"It's getting thin," Maryland football coach Ralph Friedgen said after yesterday's practice. "We can't afford to lose any more. We're running out."
Marlon Moye-Moore, the team's second-leading tackler last season, is suspended because of assault and battery charges from a February incident. Kevin Bishop, a third-stringer at middle linebacker and the team's third-leading tackler from 1999, left the team last week to pursue law school.
Moye-Moore's stand-in had been sophomore Leon Joe, but Joe ran with the second team for most of yesterday's practice while Andrew Henley played with the first team.
Friedgen gave Joe a vote of confidence, saying he hadn't slipped since the spring practices and that "he's done a good job."
There is turbulence on the offensive line as well. Chris Snader, a fifth-year senior and right tackle who played in every game last season and started two, has been declared academically ineligible. Starting right guard Lamar Bryant may join him, as he may also have to sit out this season for academic reasons.
"We'll know something soon, but I don't know yet," Friedgen said of Bryant, a sophomore who suited up yesterday.
Thunderstorms forced Maryland to modify its plans for Saturday evening. The team canceled its outdoor practice. It shuttled small groups into a bubble-type indoor facility in an effort to install as much of the offense and defense as possible under the conditions - "It's better than walking through things," Friedgen said.