Ailing linebackers still question mark as Terps as prepare for Syracuse

Several starters might miss game vs. Syracuse on Saturday

September 17, 2014|By Matt Zenitz | Baltimore Sun Media Group

COLLEGE PARK -- By the end of last weekend's game against West Virginia, Maryland was depleted enough that the Terrapins were primarily using backups at inside linebacker and a scout team player at outside linebacker.

The Terps might get outside linebackers Yannik Cudjoe-Virgil and Matt Robinson back for Saturday's game against Syracuse. Inside linebacker L.A. Goree might play as well.

But all four of Maryland's starting linebackers have dealt with injuries during the early part of the season, and it is possible the Terps will again have to rely heavily on backup players when Maryland plays a Syracuse team that ran for 289 yards in a 40-3 win over Central Michigan last week.

"Everybody who is going to be eligible to play is prepared to do what we do," Terps defensive coordinator Brian Stewart said. "We do a simple defense, a lot of the same stuff. We'll be OK."

Goree and Robinson appear to be the biggest question marks. Cudjoe-Virgil has dealt with a foot injury since preseason practice and has missed Maryland's first three games, but practiced this week.

"He looks good," Maryland coach Randy Edsall said.

Goree, however, has a back injury that forced him to miss the game against West Virginia. Edsall waited to see how the injury progressed last week, but Goree told Edsall Friday that he would not be able to play.

It is unclear if Goree has practiced this week since Big Ten schools do not release daily injury reports.

Robinson's status is also unclear. He left the game against West Virginia early in the first quarter with an undisclosed injury and did not return. As with Goree, Edsall has not said whether he expects Robinson to play against Syracuse.

"We'll make determinations once we get through all these practices and we talk to our doctors to see where they are," Edsall said.

If Goree cannot play, the Terps will again turn to senior Alex Twine, an experienced player who has started two of Maryland's first three games because of injuries to Goree and fellow starter Cole Farrand.

Robinson being out would be more problematic. A former safety, he is far and away the Terps' best linebacker in coverage, and his replacements allowed at least two big plays in coverage against West Virginia.

"As far as coverage-wise, [Robinson] is going to be clean in his coverage and where he is supposed to be and how he's going about doing it," Stewart said. "That is what you miss. You miss a guy who really understands coverage from both a back-end and front-end perspective. He understands the passing game."

Orange senior quarterback Terrel Hunt completed 20 of 30 passes for 175 yards and a touchdown during Syracuse's win over Central Michigan, but the biggest challenge against Syracuse will be stopping the run.

The 6-foot-3, 235-pound Hunt ran for 92 yards and three touchdowns on 13 carries against Central Michigan and rushed for 500 yards and seven touchdowns last season, including 67 yards on seven carries during Syracuse's 20-3 win over the Terps last November.

The Orange's two primary running backs — Adonis Ameen-Moore and Prince-Tyson Gulley — average more than six yards a carry.

"We've just got to get everyone to take care of their responsibility and get everyone flying to the football," Edsall said. "I don't want to hear about injuries. I don't want to hear about any of that stuff because whoever is in there we're confident that they can go in and do the job."

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