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Brandon Ross' fumbling may cost him Terps' starting RB job

Brandon Ross led Maryland in rushing against James Madison, but fumbles could keep him on the sideline.
Brandon Ross led Maryland in rushing against James Madison, but fumbles could keep him on the sideline. (Mitch Stringer, USA Today Sports photo)

Early in preseason practice, Maryland running back Brandon Ross was summoned to the sideline after coughing up the football.

Ross had multiple fumbles during the beginning of camp, but the issue subsided as the summer went on.

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Now, the junior is now having problems with fumbles during the regular season — enough so that he may be replaced as the Terps' starting running back.

Ross had a fumble during Maryland's season-opening win against James Madison and then lost two fumbles during the first half of the Terps' win at South Florida on Saturday.

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"It is [a concern]," Maryland coach Randy Edsall said. "We talk to him about it all the time. And I love him to death. But we can't put him on the field with the other guys that we have if [he] can't hang onto the ball."

Ross led the Terps with 776 rushing yards last year and ran for a team-high 86 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries against James Madison. However, he was replaced by sophomore Wes Brown after his second fumble against South Florida and had just one carry in the second half.

Brown finished with a team-high 13 carries for 61 yards.

Edsall called the fumbling issues "disappointing" when considering how often the coaches stress fundamentals in practice.

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"To see that stuff happen, it's discouraging," he said. "If we didn't work on it, it would be a different story. But we work on that stuff.

"And what happens is some of those guys that didn't do the things they're supposed to will see their playing time diminish, and you'll see some of the guys who've shown some things will get more playing time."

Junior Albert Reid and Brown both fumbled against South Florida as well, but Brown's fumble appeared to be on a botched handoff between him and quarterback C.J. Brown.

Wes Brown appears likely to be Maryland's primary ball-carrier heading into Saturday's game against West Virginia, but Edsall said he wasn't ready to make that announcement during his weekly conference call Sunday. Brown was suspended last season and had rust to shake off once he returned, but he is probably Maryland's most naturally gifted runner and is averaging 5.5 yards per carry on 26 rushes through the Terps' first two games.

Edsall has also said that Brown has progressively cut down on his mental mistakes since first returning to action during the spring.

"We always evaluate everything, take a look at stuff and make decisions based on who we feel will give us the best chance to win," Edsall said. "And maybe some guys' playing time will be increased or some will be decreased, but we haven't had that discussion yet to make any formal statement."

NOTES: Maryland's game at Syracuse on Sept. 20 will start at 12:30 p.m., the Atlantic Coast Conference announced Monday. … Edsall awarded the game balls for Saturday's win over South Florida to wide receiver Marcus Leak (offense), defensive end Andre Monroe (defense) and fullback Kenny Goins (special teams). Leak had three catches for 72 yards and two touchdowns. Monroe had a team-high eight tackles and a sack, and Goins had a blocked punt during the fourth quarter that the Terps recovered for a go-ahead touchdown.

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