Will Maryland overcome all the defensive injuries?
COLLEGE PARK--Andre Monroe knows what it’s like to suffer a season-ending injury.
He knows about the stress and the process and the angst and the restlessness. He knows about the support structures and the rehab and the time away from the field.
The 5-11, 270-pound Maryland defensive lineman knows because he went through it, suffering a knee injury that ended his season before it even began in August 2012.
“At first, I was like, ‘I’m going to stay positive. I want everybody to do well. I’m just going to be the little voice on the sideline and..uplift everybody and do things like that,’” Monroe said Tuesday in College Park. “But then later on in the process it really does mess with your head and your emotions.
“It’ll be some days where it’s like, ‘Man, I don’t want to do anything. I wish I was out there.’ But that’s when my teammates and my family and coaches just came in to remind me that this happened for a reason. Take advantage of it. Don’t look at it as a curse. Look at it as a blessing.”
So when Monroe saw linebacker Yannik Cudjoe-Virgil go down in Maryland’s 27-26 win over Virginia Saturday and later be diagnosed with a season-ending pectoral tear, he knew what would follow.
“It is very hard,” Monroe said. “You look at them as a friend, your brother, and on the other hand you’ve got to look at is as the next person needs to step up. It’s all part of the game, so you have to kind of move on even if you don’t want to.”
Cudjoe-Virgil, who is scheduled to have surgery to repair the injury on Friday, had been one of the catalysts of Maryland’ defense so far this season.
Though not dominant, the Terrapins have been largely respectable in major defensive categories, ranking 39th in points per game allowed, 36th in yards per game allowed, 27th in rushing yards per game allowed, and 16th in defensive sacks per game.
Cudjoe-Virgil’s emergence as a pass rusher and antagonist in the opponent’s backfield had helped him register 18 tackles, three sacks, and an interception. Not only that, his ability to draw attention to himself had helped others boost their numbers, including 5.5 sacks from senior Marcus Whitfield.
“You feel bad...especially for a guy like Yannik,” Edsall said on Tuesday. “That guy just works his tail off each and every day to be the best he can be.
“Injuries happen. I’m not going to sit here and cry about them. Our job as coaches is to deal with the situation the best we can and work to get the right people on the field to give us a chance to win and that’s what we’re doing.”
Without Cudjoe-Virgil for much of Saturday’s game and with fellow linebacker Matt Robinson out for 3-4 weeks with a shoulder injury, Maryland struggled to contain Virginia tight end Jake McGee, who caught eight passes for a season-high 114 yards.
The situation was made worse by the fact that both starting cornerbacks remain out, Dexter McDougle for the season and Jeremiah Johnson for at least a few more weeks.
“It’s the situation where we’ve got to get guys to understand that they’re a little bit closer to playing,” Edsall said. “We’ve got to have a little bit more sense of urgency and an understanding that, hey, they could be in there and they’ve got to be able to execute if they go in there.”
Special teams standout Alex Twine now slots in at outside linebacker to replace Cudjoe-Virgil, and the Terrapins expect contributions from freshmen Yannick Ngakoue and Cavon Walker.
The ability to pressure Wake Forest quarterback Tanner Price will be key on Saturday, considering the presence of wide receiver Michael Campanero on the outside.
Campanero ranks second in the conference in both receptions and yards, having caught 44 passes for 582 yards so far this season.
Maryland kicks off against Wake Forest in Winston-Salem on Saturday at 3:30 p.m.