By Jeff Barker
The Baltimore Sun
1:49 PM EDT, October 18, 2013
When Maryland made the trip for Saturday's game at Wake Forest, the Terps brought with them a number of players still recovering from all sorts of injuries — from a damaged rotator cuff to a broken toe.
The players — including cornerbacks Dexter McDougle (shoulder) and Jeremiah Johnson (toe), and linebackers Matt Robinson (rotator cuff) and Alex Twine (labrum) — are certain not to participate in the game, in which the Terps (5-1, 1-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) can become bowl-eligible with a victory.
But their presence fulfills a variety of off-the-field functions. It provides a sense of normalcy to keep the sidelined Terps united with their teammates, and it allows the recovering players to feel they are still contributing.
"It helps them, and it helps our team to have them around," Maryland coach Randy Edsall said. "They're traveling and they understand the game plan, know the game plan and they almost become extra coaches for you. They can see things, talk to the guys when they come off."
Maryland prefers players to keep the same roommates on the road throughout the season. Having injured players travel allows the team to continue those room assignments.
To an unfortunate degree, Maryland has had experience coping with injuries.
"The thing is, we've been through this," Edsall said. "I've had guys going down the last three years. It happens all the time."
Last season, Maryland had four quarterbacks — including starter C.J. Brown — suffer season-ending injuries.
Brown missed last week's 27-26 victory over Virginia with a concussion, but he has been named the starter against the Demon Deacons (3-3, 1-2 ACC).
After enduring two previous long-term injuries, the fifth-year senior knew the drill last week when he was sidelined. The key was remaining active.
"It's always tough [watching]," he said. "It was definitely a tough one to swallow. I was out there signaling [in plays] and stuff like that. I was still involved."
Recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament last season, Brown said the worst part was the isolation . "The lonely times are when I was laying in my bed by myself, and I always had to rely on somebody else."
It's human nature for players to be affected when they see a teammate go down. After suffering his concussion against Florida State, Brown lay on the field before walking unsteadily into the locker room. It was an image the Terps may have found hard to shake.
"It was tough to see a friend down on the ground," center Sal Conaboy said.
Coaches must strike a balance between honoring the injured players' contributions and making sure the team can move on without losing focus.
"I don't think you forget about anybody," defensive coordinator Brian Stewart said. At the same time, he said, "Everyone should be in that mindset that, 'I am the next man up.'"
This season, the injuries are starting to mount on defense. McDougle is out for the season, but Johnson is expected to return. Saturday, the Terps will be missing three linebackers who began the season on the two-deep depth chart — Robinson (Atholton), Twine and transfer Yannik Cudjoe-Virgil (Towson High).
Cudjoe-Virgil, one of Maryland's sack leaders, is out for the season with a pectoral injury suffered last week. He was not expected to travel to Wake Forest because of a scheduled surgery on Friday. Maryland expects Robinson and Twine to be back this season, but it's not certain when.
The injuries mean more playing time for linebacker Yannick Ngakoue and Cavon Walker. Both are freshmen from Friendship Collegiate in Washington.
Wake Forest ranks last in the ACC in scoring (20 points per game). But senior Michael Campanaro (River Hill) poses a challenge. He leads the conference with 8.8 receptions per game and 116.4 receiving yards per game.
"You've got five guys out, big-time contributors for you defensively," Edsall said. "Other guys just have to step up, take advantage of the opportunity. It makes us better in the long run, because now those guys are going to get more reps and get better experience and be more equipped to play."
Maryland (5-1,1-1 ACC) at Wake Forest (3-3, 1-2 ACC)
When: Saturday, 3:30 P.M.
Site: BB&T Field, Winston-Salem, N.C.
Radio: 105.7 FM, 980 AM
Series: Maryland leads 43-17-1
Last meeting: Maryland defeated Wake Forest, 19-14, on Oct. 6, 2012, in College Park
Maryland offense vs. Wake Forest defense: Quarterback C.J. Brown (concussion) returns as Maryland's starter after missing last week's Virginia game. Wake Forest's defense ranks ninth in the conference in yards allowed per game (365.2). The Demon Deacons are led by nose guard Nikita Whitlock, who ranks third in the ACC in tackles for loss (11.5) and sixth in sacks (five).
Maryland defense vs. Wake Forest offense: Maryland has had not any takeaways in its past two games, and its once-impressive turnover margin has dropped to plus-1. The Terps rank eighth in the ACC in total defense (362.3 yards allowed per game) but fourth in sacks (18). Receiver Michael Campanaro needs 11 receptions to pass Desmond Clark as Wake Forest's career leader. But the Demon Deacons rank next-to-last in the conference in rushing (112.5 yards per game).
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