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COLLEGE PARK--This starts out like one of those math problems you used to loathe in high school.
A Towson train named Terrance West leaves Baltimore in Week 1, heading north, rushing for 156 yards on 36 carries. One week later, a Maryland train named Brandon Ross is headed in the same direction, rushing for 149 yards on 18 carries.
At what time will their two story lines converge in East Hartford, Conn.? The answer is Week 3 at 7:30 p.m.
That is when Ross and Maryland are set to kick off against Connecticut at Rentschler Field, with film fresh in their minds of a big Week 1 performance from West serving as a blueprint for success on the ground vs. the Huskies.
West's career day helped Towson to a 33-18 upset over UConn, which was followed by a bye week for the Huskies, meaning the Terps meet coach Paul Pasqualoni's team not only coming off a loss to an FCS team, but with two weeks to prepare for Saturday's showdown.
What could that mean for Ross, who showed he could be a legitimate threat in Maryland's read-option scheme this season?
"I just told him to keep doing his job. We don’t make it complicated around here," head coach Randy Edsall said at his weekly press conference on Tuesday. "We keep it very short and sweet and tell them what they do right and tell them what they do wrong and help them get better.
"All we need to do is to have Brandon continue to do the things he’s been doing last week."
But, one must remember, Ross' lack of production in Week 1 is equal parts based on systematic factors and personal performance.
Yes, he carried the ball 10 times and only gained 21 yards, but that's how Maryland's versatile read option is designed to work. With weapons like Stefon Diggs and Deon Long as receivers on the outside, along with quarterback C.J. Brown's ability to run the football, defenses are forced to plug, say, three holes, leaving one to exploit.
"The first game, they respected Brandon more than they respected me and I made them pay for it," Brown told CSN on Tuesday. "Then last game, they didn't want me to carry the ball and Brandon got all the touches. He took advantage of it and I thought he did great.
"That's the biggest thing. There's so many guys out on the field, you can't cover them all."
Ross won the starting job prior to Week 1, moving more away from a split-back situation with Albert Reid to a more featured role within the offense.
This week against Connecticut, he'll need to continue to run north to south in the same mold that West did in Week 1 for Towson, though with so many offensive weapons it's doubtful that he'll carry the ball 36 times.
That would mark another step in the development of the sophomore running back.
"We had an issue where we thought he was dancing a little bit too much and we talked to him about it," Edsall said. "We showed it to him on film and then he went out and played better. That’s what you like because it shows that he’s coachable, he understands it, and now he sees it and he’s doing it."