Terps look forward to new season with healthy QBs
"Brandon [Ross] is the starter. Albert [Reid] is the backup."
It was that simple for Maryland head coach Randy Edsall while taking questions from the media on Tuesday in College Park, finally taking a moment to clearly define his team's depth chart at running back.
Throughout training camp during the month of August, Ross and Reid had been splitting carries and sharing duties in the backfield, but Tuesday's announcement brought more clarity as the team prepares for Saturday's season opener vs. Florida International.
"Albert is going to play. I'm not afraid to have Albert in the game. I like that," Edsall said. "Brandon just has a little bit more experience and has done some things that we as a coaching staff feel that puts him as a starter.
"We always know that we're going to have two tailbacks playing in the ballgame anyhow. We've got complete confidence in both of them, but Brandon has shown a little bit more."
Ross, a 5-10, 210-pound sophomore from Newark, Delaware, carried the ball 85 times for 390 yards and a touchdown in 2012. He says he added about five pounds of muscle during the offseason, which could help to make him a stronger, more powerful runner in 2013.
With fellow running back Wes Brown suspended for the season, he and Reid have been forced to take on a featured role in the backfield.
"I think maybe I've become a smarter player, been able to read defenses better," Ross said. "One thing I really tried to work on is my ball security and my vision, being able to see holes where I need to go.
"I've made a lot of strides mentally, but I've made a few physically, too."
The battle between Ross and Reid should continue throughout the season, as other position battles will, and though Edsall says no one is necessarily on a "short leash," depth always Maryland to have flexibility.
"It's really like a friendly competition. We're always trying to help each other out to become the best backs we could possibly be," Ross said of his relationship with Reid. "Really, our play ultimately affects how the offense plays, so you never want to leave somebody out."
Questions remain on Maryland offensive line, which could be of concern to Maryland's running back corps. Edsall maintains that the depth chart is "fluid" on the line and the coaching staff will continue to slot in different pieces as it sees fit.
As for Ross, he sees it as a symbiotic relationship between the backfield and the offensive line.
"Really we're just trying to do everything we can to help them out," Ross said. "Chips on pass protection and really, just the main thing is communicating. Who to pick up, who to block."
Maryland should hope that communication improves, after struggles prevailed in pass protections during the team's intra-squad scrimmage last weekend.
The Terps kick off against Florida International on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet.