COLLEGE PARK — Maryland outside linebacker Matt Robinson found himself in a familiar, frustrating position, sitting on the field and waiting to be tended to by Maryland's athletic trainers.
After missing the previous three games with a shoulder injury, the redshirt senior had gotten through most of the Terps' game against Iowa on Oct. 18 without any major setbacks — until he ran to make a tackle late in the fourth quarter and led with that damaged right shoulder.
Robinson's initial thought was that he had not done significant damage to the already ailing shoulder. The reality hit later.
"It was a little depressing," said Robinson, who has dealt with right shoulder injuries throughout his time at Maryland. "But at the end of the day, I'm still here. I'm still playing and was really just trying to get out there and help my teammates win."
Relegated to the sideline for two games after reinjuring the shoulder, Robinson (Atholton) returned to the lineup Saturday against No. 12 Michigan State and helped Maryland hold the high-powered Spartans, who entered that week averaging 44 points per game, to 16 points through three-and-a-half quarters.
The defense held up without Robinson, containing Heisman frontrunner Melvin Gordon and Wisconsin for two-plus quarters and then limiting Penn State to 219 yards of total offense in a 20-19 win.
But the unit is noticeably better when Robinson, a former safety, is on the field.
"Matt wasn't 100 percent, and is still not 100 percent, but the one thing is, playing is important to Matt," Terps coach Randy Edsall said. "He was cleared to play and everything else. He is an experienced guy and a smart guy that understands the scheme and system that we have. It's like having a coach on the field because of the way he communicates.
"It's one of the biggest things. The communication aspects of our defense with him is so much better. He's also one of those guys who is a very calming influence on everybody that's out there. When something happens with a motion or shift, he gets things communicated and gets everyone lined up. He just plays with a confidence and poise that a fifth-year guy would play with."
While the stats are a reflection of more than just Robinson, Maryland allowed only 24 total points in wins over James Madison and South Florida before Robinson injured his shoulder against West Virginia on Sept. 13.
"I think the defense has been doing a great job all year. And obviously when he's out there, he's a big-time player," Terps quarterback C.J. Brown said. "Unfortunately he's been hurt. So anytime he's on the field, I'm happy for him, and I know a lot of guys are."