Maryland starting nose tackle Darius Kilgo, a redshirt junior, learned before last week's game against Old Dominion that he was being replaced because coaches wanted to employ a special package against the Monarchs' spread offense.
“I think you want the fastest people on the field,” Terps defensive coordinator Brian Stewart said Wednesday.
Roman Braglio (McDonogh), a 6-foot-2, 260-pound redshirt freshman, started for the Terps against Old Dominion in place of the 6-foot-3, 310-pound Kilgo and backup Nate Clarke, a 6-foot-3, 305-pound redshirt sophomore.
It can be unsettling for a starter to surrender his spot -- even for one game -- but Kilgo, who started 11 of 12 games last season, said he understood.
“I wasn’t really shocked because last year we did the same thing against West Virginia,” said Kilgo, who did play against Old Dominion, but only sparingly.
"I told [Braglio], 'Go in there and play your game. It's your first career start. I know you're going to be a little nervous.' I have no hard feelings towards anybody. At the end of the day, we got the win,” Kilgo said.
Maryland used six defensive backs in its 47-10 victory over Old Dominion. Junior Cole Farrand, who usually starts at inside linebacker, also began the game on the bench.
The Terps could employ a similar dime package when they play against West Virginia’s spread offense Sept. 21 at M&T Bank Stadium.
“I think if you’re a true team player ... you understand our package, what we’re trying to do,” Stewart said.
Kilgo and Farrand are expected to start when the Terps (2-0) travel to Connecticut (0-1) on Saturday.
In his first career start, freshman cornerback Will Likely led Maryland in tackles against Old Dominion with 11.
Despite fumbling a punt in the season opener, he seems to have earned coaches' trust.
“I was excited, but I wasn’t too excited,” Likely said of his start against Old Dominion. “At the end of the day, if I don’t do my job ... I’m not contributing to the defense.”
Although Likely has played a big role in his first two games with the Terps, Stewart said it's what the coaching staff expected when they recruited him.
“I always thought he was a special player,” Stewart said of Likely. “That would be just like asking, ‘When you got [sophomore receiver-returner] Stefon Diggs, did you expect him to do the things that he did?’ You kind of did. I think [Likely] is doing a great job.”
From walk-on to starter
One of the surprises of training camp was the emergence of guard Michael Dunn, a redshirt freshman from Bethesda.
Dunn, a walk-on, was listed as a backup tackle in mid-August, but he moved into a starting guard spot before the season opener. He not only became a starter but won a scholarship.
So how has Dunn fared two games into his first season as a starter?
“He’s having some freshman struggles,” Terps offensive coordinator Mike Locksley said. “We saw him getting better from Week 1 to Week 2.”