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The gears were turning as they were expected to for Maryland's defense on the road Saturday vs. Connecticut. And for their efforts, two Maryland defensive players were recognized by the ACC for their performances in Week 3.
Senior Marcus Whitfield was named the ACC's Linebacker of the Week. He was relentless in the pass rush, registering three sacks including one that forced an intentional grounding penalty on UConn QB Chandler Whitmer, resulting in a safety in the 4th quarter.
His three sacks make him the first Maryland defender in over a decade, since former Terp Shawne Merriman vs. UNC on Nov. 2, 2002, to register three or more sacks in one game.
Whitfield has arguably been Maryland's most active and impactful defender through three games, tallying 4.5 total sacks. That ties him with seven other players for the FBS lead in quarterback takedowns.
Dexter McDougle was Whitfield's equal in the secondary, being honored as the conference's Defensive Back of the Week.
McDougle picked off two passes, one that stopped Connecticut's offensive momentum early in the game and another, which he returned for a touchdown, that finally gave his team some breathing room and a two-touchdown lead with 2:07 to play in the third quarter.
The honor is bittersweet for McDougle, though. Just three plays after his interception return for a touchdown, he went down awkwardly on a tackle and jammed his shoulder into Connecticut tight end Sean McQuillan.
McDougle stayed down in pain and was attended to by trainers. Tests postgame revealed that he has sustained a serious shoulder injury and it was determined that he would miss the remainder of the season.
Because of his status as a fifth-year senior, McDougle is not eligible to apply for a medical redshirt from the NCAA.
That effectively means that McDougle's playing career at Maryland is over, though he will remained involved with the team in film study, meeting, and during trips.
He underwent more tests on Sunday and surgery to repair the injury on Monday.