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Injuries force Maryland toward youth movement

By David Ginsburg
AP Sports Writer / October 26, 2011

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COLLEGE PARK, Md.—As the losses and injuries keep mounting for Maryland, the Terrapins keep getting younger.

Maryland's two-deep depth chart for Saturday's game against Boston College features 14 freshmen, including a half-dozen starters. There are only 15 seniors left on the roster and only three of them are starters: cornerback Cameron Chism, tailback Davin Meggett and wide receiver Quintin McCree.

The latest casualty was senior linebacker Kenny Tate, who earlier this week was declared out for the season with an unspecified injury. Tate is the second Maryland co-captain to be shelved for the year -- senior guard Andrew Gonnella was lost with a knee injury sustained in a loss to Georgia Tech on Oct. 8.

For the Terrapins, it's been next freshman up.

Wide receiver Marcus Leak, who played high school ball a year ago, started for injured Kevin Dorsey last Saturday against Florida State and had eight catches for 61 yards and a touchdown. He is one of 21 freshmen who have played this season for the Terrapins (2-5, 1-3 Atlantic Coast Conference)

"We're getting a lot of people experience," coach Randy Edsall said. "You just hope that guys can keep going in, keep playing, keep battling."

The Terrapins may ultimately benefit from getting their freshmen so much playing time, but this season they're paying the price for youth. Maryland had five freshmen starters on defense against Clemson earlier this month, and the Tigers took advantage of the situation by scoring 56 points and rolling up 576 yards in offense.

Season-ending injuries to Tate, safety Matt Robinson and end Isaiah Ross are three reasons why Edsall has used seven different defensive starting lineups.

The offense also has been operating short-handed, and last week the problem spread to the quarterbacks. Leak caught his touchdown pass from Danny O'Brien, who entered after starter C.J. Brown was left woozy by a helmet-to-helmet hit.

Brown knows all about serious injuries. He missed all but one game last season with a fractured shoulder.

"Being hurt last year, you know it's tough. You feel for those guys losing their season as well," Brown said. "That being said, other people are going to have to step up. The season's not over. We still have a great opportunity to finish strong."

Despite the injuries, Maryland can qualify for a bowl bid by winning four of its last five games.

"This team is working hard. They're giving effort," Edsall said. "Other than one game (a 38-7 loss to Temple), we've been into the fourth quarter with the ability to win games. We've just got to get over the hump.

"There's been enthusiasm in practice. I don't sense the guys are down. When adversity strikes, and you don't win as much as you would like to win, there's really only two things you can do. You can either sulk about it and get upset, or you can work hard and continue to improve. What everybody's doing is working hard, trying to find ways within themselves to do it a little bit better to help the team win."