Injuries bruise bodies, psyche of reeling Terps

Morale, strategy taking hits with thin roster

November 05, 2007|By Jeff Barker | Jeff Barker,Sun Reporter

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- Maryland's unwieldy injury list grew after Saturday's defeat against North Carolina to include defensive back Drew Robinson, who is out for the season, coach Ralph Friedgen said yesterday. The injuries are exacting a toll, not only because they have sidelined so many players but because they are subtly affecting those still healthy enough to play.

The injuries, particularly to the battered offensive line, have a ripple effect that was evident in the 16-13 loss to North Carolina, Maryland's third defeat in a row.

The injuries mean that:

With a thinned bench, starters are logging more playing time than normal and have little margin for error. "I think what has happened in the last couple games is you get worn out because there's not a lot of substitutes," Friedgen said after the Terps fell to the Tar Heels for the first time in seven years.

Regulars are being asked to blend into the lineup with reserves with whom they are less familiar.

Ailing players miss practice and may not be sharp. "Here's the choice I've got," Friedgen said. "Either I don't practice them and try to get them ready to play Saturday. Or maybe they practice and they're not able to play Saturday."

Morale is affected by teammates' injuries and by losing. "When we see guys down on the field, especially during a game, it automatically brings team morale down," defensive back Kevin Barnes said. "You don't want to see anybody get hurt. We've been through a lot together.`

The injuries have made it harder for Friedgen to implement game strategies.

"It definitely makes it harder, because you have to consider more things than you would normally do - matchups, what plays will be successful, how proficient that person will be. There's a lot of planning for what-ifs that you wouldn't normally do," the coach said.

Friedgen said he can't control the injuries, nor can he explain all the penalties and miscommunication that dogged the Terps on Saturday. Maryland (4-5, 1-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) was penalized nine times for 67 yards, and some plays called from the sideline weren't run correctly. "The missed assignments and the miscommunication really stopped about three or four drives," Friedgen said.

Some of the Terrapins seemed stunned after Saturday's loss, as if they couldn't completely fathom the course the season has taken. Friedgen said the Terps would realistically need to win their last three games to be invited to a postseason bowl.

"I don't know, it's just a desperate feeling," quarterback Chris Turner said. "You just want to win so bad and you forget how. It's been so long at this point."

Friedgen said he's convinced the team is still playing hard. "I haven't seen them not compete, and that included [Saturday]," he said.

He said he told the players, "We have a tough road ahead, but we need go out and relax and have fun."

Robinson was lost with a knee injury. Linebacker Erin Henderson is being evaluated for a back injury that he played with Saturday. The offensive line remains battered. Friedgen said he hopes tight end Dan Gronkowski will be back for the Nov. 17 game against Florida State.

The reconfigured offensive line contributed heavily Saturday to Maryland's penalties. Among the line's infractions were holding, a false start and an ineligible player downfield called on Dane Randolph in the third quarter, wiping out an 18-yard completion by Turner to the North Carolina 40 with Maryland trailing, 9-3.



With North Carolina leading 16-3 and its homecoming crowd sensing victory, Maryland quarterback Chris Turner completed three passes, including one for 34 yards, and took the Terps 80 yards in eight plays for a third-quarter touchdown.


Turner was intercepted in the final minute of the second quarter at the North Carolina 40. The Tar Heels kicked a field goal - it would prove important - with 11 seconds left before halftime.

Fast forward

The Terps (4-5, 1-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) will face Boston College on Saturday in College Park. The previously unbeaten Eagles were upset Saturday by Florida State, 27-17.


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