Watch comments from Randy Edsall and Keith Bowers on Marlon Mack in the video player above, following a short advertisement.
COLLEGE PARK -- Before last week, you had no idea who Marlon Mack was. Maybe you still don’t know.
His name sounds like the everyday identity of a comic book character who moonlights as a superhero. Clark Kent. Peter Parker. Marlon Mack.
Except Mack’s alter ego doesn’t leap tall building in a single bound. He’s a true freshman South Florida running back who racked up 275 yards on the ground by himself on just 24 carries in his team’s 36-31 win over Western Carolina in Week 1.
And he’s now the villain for Maryland on Saturday in Tampa.
“He’s very talented,” Maryland head coach Randy Edsall told the media on Tuesday before rattling off a laundry list of praise.
“He’s a true freshman who is very shifty. He’s quick. He’s fast -- broke two 60-yarders -- has good vision, good patience getting to the hole and good vision to see things. Tough. Really, really impressed and we’re really going to be challenged.”
Looking at averages, James Madison’s running game -- and offense as a whole -- did little to Maryland in Week 1. The Dukes averaged less than four yards per carry and even with that, some can be attributed to Maryland’s personnel decisions as they tried to avoid injury in the second half.
For a better picture, look at last season’s averages, now with much of the defense returning in 2014.
The Terrapins ranked in the top half of FBS in rushing yards allowed per game (41st overall at 149.7 per contest) and even higher (27th overalll) in yards allowed per rushing attempt (3.7).
So now all eyes are now focused on Mack.
“He had a tremendous game last week. There’s no doubt about that,” senior defensive lineman Keith Bowers said Tuesday. “He’s quick He’s fast. He’s pretty big. He runs physical. Low to the ground. Makes good cuts. Makes good decisions with the ball in his hands.”
“We’re going to have to tackle well,” Edsall added. “We’re going to have to take care of our gaps and we’re going to have to be running to the ball and when we run to the ball we’re going to have to take good angles.”
Edsall has not been revealing when it comes to injury news, but senior linebacker Cole Farrand was not expected to play against James Madison and did end up seeing time.
Fellow senior Yannik Cudjoe-Virgil did not play last week because of a foot injury and his status for Saturday’s game against USF has yet to be clarified.
Both would be assets in the fight to stop Mack, though sophomore Yannick Ngakoue finished with five tackles filling in last week and the Terrapins got contributions from wrestler-turned-lineman Spencer Myers, who had 1.5 tackles for loss.
“You know, you just got to wrap up, play your game,” Bowers said. “Run to the ball, and do what we do as a defense.”