Short-handed WVU defense must find ways to slow down Maryland’s two-quarterback system
Published: Thursday, September 16, 2010
Updated: Thursday, September 16, 2010 23:09
If one asks West Virginia head coach Bill Stewart, no game is a good one to play without multiple defensive starters.
Missing multiple starters on defense in the Mountaineers' game against Maryland Saturday, however, might be even more dangerous.
The Terrapins (2-0) will utilize two different quarterbacks when they face off with WVU at noon Saturday at Milan Puskar Stadium.
Junior Jamarr Robinson, who is seen as more of a run threat, will likely start and see most of the time although the time of redshirt freshman Danny O'Brien, who is viewed as the passing game threat, has greatly increased already this season.
Meanwhile, WVU cornerback Brandon Hogan was suspended indefinitely following a DUI arrest last Sunday, while linebacker Pat Lazear will likely also miss while still nursing a bone bruise.
West Virginia safety Robert Sands is still nursing an injury suffered in WVU's 24-21 win over Marshall last week and his play will be limited when the Mountaineers kickoff with the Terrapins Saturday at noon at Milan Puskar Stadium.
"This is what you practice for," said WVU cornerbacks coach David Lockwood. "Now, it's time to get it done."
Najee Goode will continue to fill in for Lazear, but the player to replace Hogan, who linebacker J.T. Thomas called "the best player on our defense," has yet to be decided.
The starting job will either go to sophomore Pat Miller or redshirt freshman Brodrick Jenkins.
Senior Brantwon Bowser should also see considerable time.
"It's the same as if somebody would get hurt on the first play of the game," Lockwood said. "Would we throw in the white flag or get somebody ready to go?
"You try to put them in positions where they have success, but some time in the game, they're going to be out there on the island by themselves. That's when it's time to grow up."
All three cornerbacks have seen a considerable amount of playing time this season, seeing action in both of the Mountaineers' games this season.
"This is another obstacle that will test the character of our team and the character of our defense," Thomas said. "Everybody has to take their game up a notch."
Thomas said he expects the Terrapins and head coach Ralph Friedgen to utilize Robinson more as part of a running attack against the Mountaineers, while WVU's main goal is to make the Maryland offense one-dimensional.
That has been easier said than done this year for Maryland's opponents. The Terrapins are 23rd in the nation in scoring after a 62-3 win against Morgan State last week. Most of that has come from Robinson, who has 128 rushing yards on just 17 carries this season, second behind tailback Davin Meggett who is averaging 77 yards per game on the ground.
O'Brien, meanwhile, is 5-for-10 for 79 yards this season with three touchdowns.
"They're two very good quarterbacks. Our defense is working hard, and they're going to have their hands full," Stewart said. "They both move the ball very, very well and can move the chains. You look at the film and say, ‘Wow'."
The Maryland defense may be equally impressive, however. The Terrapins rank 32nd nationally in total defense and rank third in pass defense. But those statistics may be skewed as Maryland has played Navy and Morgan State, who combined have attempted just 38 passes this season.
"What we do know is that every position is big, strong, fast and physical," said WVU offensive coordinator Jeff Mullen. "They know who they are. They have an identity, they believe in it, and they play to it well."
The two programs recently agreed to extend the series through the 2017 season, although it will be the first time the two teams have faced off since 2007.
Senior Noel Devine, then a true freshman, ran for 136 yards on just five carries including a 76-yard run on his first carry.
"I remember how fast he ran by me," Friedgen said. "He has tremendous all-out speed. He's been very impressive every time I've watched him."
West Virginia holds the all-time series lead 23-21-2. The series first began in 1919.