While most of the conversation on Maryland coach Randy Edsall's weekly conference call centered on the Terps' uncertain quarterback state of affairs, the fifth-year coach offered some clarity about the team's linebacker situation, which took a hit when it lost outside linebackers Jefferson Ashiru for the season and Brett Zanotto for the next few weeks with ankle injuries.
Sophomore Jalen Brooks, who won the starting job at strong side linebacker in camp, shifted over to the weak side after the injuries, and senior Avery Thompson entered Maryland's 28-0 loss to Michigan on the strong side. Edsall said he thinks the Terps will keep that linebacker alignment moving forward.
"I thought Jalen did a nice job going in there and playing and I thought Avery did a good job, too, so I was pleased with that," Edsall said Sunday.
Edsall also said that Ashiru, a transfer from Connecticut, will have surgery later this week on Thursday or Friday, and he expects Zanotto to miss "probably three weeks" after he sprained his ankle on a noncontact play.
Maryland's outside linebacker group was already thin after projected starter Abner Logan was lost for the season at the beginning of August. That forced the team to shuffle things a little bit, but the trio of Brooks, Ashiru and middle linebacker Jermaine Carter Jr. had started all five games this season.
Edsall said the coaching staff is shifting things around in terms of who will be the backups — Zanotto was Ashiru's backup, while Thompson was Brooks' backup — and that more information will be provided when the team releases the depth chart for Saturday's game at Ohio State.
For now, the Terps must contend with an injury bug that had largely left them alone during the first month of the season.
"We'll take a look at things," Edsall said. "We're looking at making a couple moves there in terms of who the backups will be at those positions. That's something we'll sit down and we'll discuss further tonight and tomorrow."
Defense turns in stiff performance
Edsall continued to lavish praise on the Maryland defense after the performance it turned in Saturday against Michigan. The Terps held the Wolverines to six points in the first half and seemed poised to keep the game within striking distance until a few big plays opened the floodgates.
The defense forced three fumbles and recovered two while intercepting Michigan quarterback Jake Rudock once. In the first half, the Terps held a Michigan running game missing starting running back De'Veon Smith to 43 yards on the ground in the first half, and they largely limited Rudock early on, aside from a long pass to tight end Jake Butt on a screen pass that set up a field goal.
"Guys played hard," Edsall said Sunday. "We have a bunch of guys running to the ball. We watched the film. The guys were running to the ball. Guys were taking advantage of the situations in terms of seeing some loose balls hanging in there in terms of them carrying the ball and we knocked some out."
Down the stretch, Maryland couldn't hold back Michigan, and the Wolverines gained 214 yards and scored 22 points in the first half. But it was a solid rebound performance for a unit that had been shredded by West Virginia a week earlier in a 45-6 loss.
"It carried over from what you saw in practice during the week," Edsall said.
Harbaugh brothers roam sidelines
Baltimore Ravens coach Jim Harbaugh joined his brother Jim, the Michigan coach, on the sideline for the Wolverines' victory over Maryland on Saturday. Thanks to the NFL schedule — the Ravens beat Pittsburgh on the road Thursday night — John was able to attend his brother's game. And the significance wasn't lost on Jim.
"It is an honor to be on the sideline with him," Jim Harbaugh said. "I think everybody felt that way. He is a longtime friend with a lot of our coaches. He gave really good input during the game. He is somebody I love, obviously, and am proud of. It was great to have him here at the ballgame. I think it's cool for our players. They really liked it. The players talked to him after in the locker room. It is good to have him get to know our team."