In Good Times And Bad, Moten Keeps Talking

Junior Linebacker Emerges As Um's Most Vocal Leader

Terrapins Scenes

A Weekly Look Inside Maryland Football

October 17, 2009|By Jeff Barker | Jeff Barker,jeff.barker@baltsun.com

COLLEGE PARK -- From a distance, Maryland linebacker Adrian Moten seems to be in constant motion - making tackles, exhorting teammates with fist pumps, leaping to celebrate big plays.

Move closer and you discover it's not only his arms and legs that rarely stop moving. It's also his mouth.

Football players use all sorts of techniques for staying upbeat and focused, particularly during trying seasons. Moten's method is to talk - incessantly, and seemingly to everyone, during games and practices. The redshirt junior from Prince George's County talks to teammates, opposing players and his coaches.

As the sounds of crickets are to summer nights, the chatter of Moten and fellow linebacker Alex Wujciak is the background music to Maryland football.

Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen smiles and shakes his head when asked about his gabby linebackers. Friedgen says he considers it a positive sign that Moten and Wujciak haven't tempered their behavior in a season in which the Terps (2-4, 1-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) have lost four of their first six games heading into today's homecoming contest against Virginia (2-3, 1-0 ACC).

"It's all in fun," Friedgen said. "That's what I like about this team. The other day I wore a flannel shirt. Moten jumped all over that. They were calling me 'lumberjack' and 'Joe Flannel.' They will even talk trash to [offensive coordinator] James [Franklin]. I had to tell them there's a line they can cross."

Friedgen said he wouldn't know what to do if Moten - who said he talked trash to star Clemson running back C.J. Spiller in Maryland's 24-21 victory two weeks ago - ever stopped his antics. That would be something to worry about, Friedgen said.

Moten said his talking provides an outlet. It's as much a part of him as his cleats and jersey.

And just what does Moten say?

"Well, we were talking to Spiller," said Moten, an agile, muscular man who speaks so quickly that it's a wonder he doesn't hyperventilate.

"When [Spiller] was running the ball, we said, 'Why didn't you keep running and try to run me over?' He just laughed at that," Moten said.

"On one play, [linebacker] Demetrius [Hartsfield] wrapped him up. Spiller kind of got upset and I said, 'Hey, he just wrapped you up, that's all!' Spiller kind of smirked."

Moten and Wujciak are considered the biggest talkers on the team. "On offense, it's usually the receivers that are the talkers," quarterback Chris Turner said. "Guys like [Adrian] Cannon and LaQuan [Williams] and Quintin McCree."

Said Moten: "I think everybody knows how I am. If I have something to say to someone, I'm going to say it."

Moten and Wujciak can usually back up their talk. They have been consistent performers on a defense that surrendered 516 yards and four touchdown passes in a 42-32 loss to Wake Forest last week.

Moten leads the Terps with 5 1/2 tackles for losses. Wujciak is the overall tackles leaders at 10 1/2 per game.

Moten, who played at times with a cast last year because of a wrist ligament injury, was respected enough by his teammates to have been elected one of four captains before this season began.

"Adrian has kind of really matured as a young man," Friedgen said. "He's kind of outspoken. He's not afraid to show guys they're not working."

Friedgen likes that Moten doesn't sulk. The outside linebacker doesn't seem to internalize his problems. Rather, he takes his frustrations out on opposing ball carriers.

One of Friedgen's biggest issues this year has been contending with young players who have trouble rebounding from mistakes.

Friedgen said he recently met privately with Cameron Chism, a sophomore cornerback who struggled against Wake Forest. Chism slipped on one play, a 33-yard completion, and got beat on another.

"I didn't like his body language I saw in practice," Friedgen said. "[Chism] had a personal issue he was dealing with." He said he told Chism: "You've got to believe in yourself, and you've got to go back to work."

Moten considers it part of his job to keep his teammates up in hard times.

"We knew we were going to have a great defense. It's just going to take time," he said.

Moten said he focuses on the positive - such as a hard sack in the Clemson game by safety Kenny Tate.

"Boom! Kenny hit him," Moten said, reliving the play. "I jumped all over Kenny after that. It was exciting."

VIRGINIA@ MARYLAND

Today, 4 p.m.

TV: ESPNU

Radio: 105.7 FM, 1300 AM

Line: Virginia by 3 1/2

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