Terps try­ing to take in­juries in their stride

Sta­tus of quar­ter­back Hills, CB Likely still un­cer­tain

Baltimore Sun - - SPORTS - By Don Markus

COL­LEGE PARK — When se­nior cor­ner­back and team cap­tain Will Likely was in­jured early in the sec­ond quar­ter of last week’s 31-10 home loss to Minnesota, first-year Mary­land foot­ball coach DJ Durkin didn’t have to tell the other se­niors on the de­fense that they needed to be more ac­tive in terms of lead­er­ship.

Se­nior de­fen­sive end Ro­man Braglio (McDonogh), who has played through a hand in­jury for most of the sea­son, said it was un­der­stood what had to be done, just as play­ers on of­fense didn’t have to be re­minded about the ab­sence of fifth-year se­nior quar­ter­back Perry Hills, who was sit­ting out the game with a shoul­der in­jury.

“In­juries, un­for­tu­nately, are a part of our game, so when some­one goes down, it’s the next man up,” Braglio said Tues­day.

It isn’t clear whether Mary­land (4-2, 1-2 Big Ten Con­fer­ence) will have ei­ther Likely or Hills back for Satur­day night’s home game against slump­ing Michi­gan State (2-4, 0-3). Durkin said at his reg­u­lar news Se­nior cor­ner­back Will Likely was hurt last week against Minnesota, and it wasn’t clear Tues­day that he would play Satur­day night. con­fer­ence Tues­day that the sta­tus of both play­ers has yet to be de­cided.

“We’re de­ter­min­ing the best course of ac­tion here right now as to what we’re go­ing to do,” Durkin said, some­what cryp­ti­cally. “I don’t have a de­fin­i­tive sta­tus on those guys. We’ll have­fur­ther up­dates later in the week.”

As of Tues­day, Hills and Likely are both listed as starters. But Hills was listed as a

starter through­out the week lead­ing up to Minnesota, and Durkin never an­nounced that true fresh­man Tyrrell Pi­grome would in­stead make his first col­lege start.

Likely is also listed as a starter at both kick and punt re­turn and as a costarter at slot re­ceiver, though he hasn’t played much on of­fense re­cently.

Durkin said deal­ing with in­juries to key play­ers is part of build­ing a pro­gram.

“In foot­ball, it hap­pens — you have in­juries,” Durkin said. “You can’t get caught up in, ‘Well this hap­pened so this hap­pened.’ It’s part of it. Man down, the next man’s got to hop up. That’s part of a team, build­ing a ros­ter. Guys have an un­der­stand­ing of that.

“We’re in ob­vi­ously the be­gin­ning stages of that, but we’re cer­tainly work­ing at it, get­ting bet­ter and learn­ing what it’s all about. We’re treat­ing ev­ery­thing right nowasacoach­ingstaff as an op­por­tu­nity to learn, a teach­able mo­ment, be­cause we’re build­ing this for the long term and the vi­sion to where this is go­ing ahead.”

The Terps missed Hills and Likely, and to a cer­tain ex­tent se­nior Trey Ed­munds, who had been a key con­trib­u­tor on special teams while his rep­e­ti­tions at run­ning back de­creased with the emer­gence of fresh­man Lorenzo Har­ri­son and sopho­more Ty John­son. Ed­munds broke his right foot at prac­tice af­ter the loss at Penn State on Oct. 8, and is ex­pected to miss sev­eral weeks.

“One per­son goes down, no mat­ter who it is, we’re [not] go­ing to go, ‘God, we re­ally miss him,’ ” se­nior of­fen­sive tackle Michael Dunn said. “We’d love to have him, but the next guy’s got to step it up. We have a lot of con­fi­dence in Piggy [Pi­grome]. That’s why he was the guy who came in. If he’s still play­ing [Satur­day] I have all the con­fi­dence in the world that he’ll lead us to a vic­tory.”

Af­ter ac­knowl­edg­ing dur­ing Mon­day’s tele­con­fer­ence that the loss of Hills has con­trib­uted to a drop-off in pro­duc­tiv­ity from the of­fense, par­tic­u­larly in the run­ning game, Durkin said Tues­day that he hasn’t seen his team’s con­fi­dence waver or its to­geth­er­ness frac­ture.

“We’ve got a group of guys that re­ally care about one another and care about what they’re do­ing and what the out­come is,” Durkin said. “We just have to work, to con­tinue to im­prove, con­tinue to stay with it.”

Durkin said he looks at the team’s two-game los­ing streak much in the same way­he­viewed the 4-0start.

“It’s a learn­ing process. It’s kind of un­char­tered wa­ters for our guys a lit­tle — 4-0 was un­char­tered wa­ters for us,” he said. “Now, two [losses] in a row — what do we do from here? To me, the an­swer is, ‘Go work, go put that smile on your face and get with the guys that you love and care about, which is our team.’ …We cer­tainly have enough guys to do that and get it cor­rected.”

Two more, namely Hills and Likely, cer­tainly will help.

NOTE: As of Tues­day, the only changes to the depth chart in­volved mov­ing ju­nior Chan­dler Bur­kett from backup de­fen­sive end to a co-starter at line­backer, along with ju­nior Jesse Aniebonam, as well as mov­ing sopho­more JC Jack­son back up to costarter at cor­ner­back along­side fresh­man Tino El­lis, who made his first start against the Go­phers af­ter re­plac­ing Jack­son.

LARRY FRENCH/GETTY IM­AGES

Mike Wal­lace was pe­nal­ized for taunt­ing in cel­e­brat­ing this 2-point con­ver­sion.

TONI L. SANDYS/THE WASH­ING­TON POST

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