Maryland starting cornerback Dexter McDougle will miss the rest of the season with a shoulder injury he suffered against Connecticut on Saturday night while playing perhaps the finest game of his career, coach Randy Edsall said Sunday.
McDougle -- a fifth-year senior and team leader -- will undergo surgery soon, said Edsall, who said it was premature to provide specifics about the injury pending further examination.
“He was playing very well for us, but he’ll be out for the rest of the year,” Edsall told reporters Sunday. “It’s just sad that this happens to him. He might have had his best game as a Terp.”
The injury means the Terps (3-0), whose secondary depth had been among the team’s strengths entering the season, have now lost both of their starting cornerbacks for an extended period this season.
Jeremiah Johnson, a redshirt junior who started all 12 games last season and led the team in pass breakups, fractured a toe in Maryland’s opening-week victory over Florida International. He hopes to return in six to seven weeks.
Isaac Goins, a transfer from Contra Costa (Calif.) College who played in nine games last season, and Will Likely, a promising freshman who also returns kicks and punts, will now start at cornerback for the Terps.
The backups are another freshman, Jarrett Ross, and sophomore Alvin Hill, who played mostly on special teams last season.
McDougle, who had eight tackles (seven unassisted) Saturday, was injured on the series after intercepting a pass by Connecticut quarterback Chandler Whitmer and returning it 49 yards for a touchdown.
It may have been the biggest play in the game for Maryland because it stretched the Terps’ lead to 27-13 with 2:07 remaining in the third quarter. Maryland won, 32-21.
It was McDougle’s second interception of the game. Maryland now has six interceptions -- two more than all of last season.
“He balled out. He had a great game,” Maryland receiver-returner Stefon Diggs said of McDougle.
Diggs had five receptions for 110 yards and a touchdown as Maryland surpassed 500 yards of offense for the third game in a row.
McDougle remained on the ground after a play on Connecticut’s next series after his second interception. He then headed to the locker room grimacing and holding his right arm and shoulder.
“He returns an interception, and the next play he goes down,” said Maryland quarterback C.J.. Brown, who passed for 277 yards and ran for 122. “It’s a tough sport.”
McDougle, who is from Falmouth, Va., joined Maryland when Ralph Friedgen was head coach. He redshirted his freshman season and is ineliglble for a medical redshirt that could have allowed him to play another year.
“He’s a little bit sore and has some pain,” Edsall said of McDougle. “He’s disappointed, of course. I told him he’ll go on all the trips for us. He’s got to be kind of a coach for us.”
McDougle wasn’t made available for media interviews after the game.
“It’s part of the game. It happens,” Edsall said. "I sympathize when those injuries do happen. We just have to have the next guy step up.”
Maryland’s depth in the secondary allowed it to play six defensive backs at once in its 47-10 victory over Old Dominion in its second game. The Terps employed that dime package because the Monarchs run a spread offense.
Maryland, which is 3-0 for the first time since 2001, may use a similar tactic against West Virginia, which runs a variation of the spread offense, on Saturday at M&T Bank Stadium.
Also injured Saturday was starting wide receiver Nigel King, a redshirt sophomore who was helped off the field during Maryland’s first possession and was seen on crutches afterward.
Edsall said King’s injury would not require surgery but declined to offer specifics.
King has three catches for 52 yards and a touchdown this season. His size -- he is 6 feet 3 -- makes him a threat in the red zone.