COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) — Maryland has made a surprising run to the top of the Atlantic Coast Conference standings in spite of a rushing game that ranks last in the league.
The Terrapins (4-2, 2-0) have already doubled their win total of last year and are the lone unbeaten team in ACC play. But their unbalanced offensive attack is a cause of concern for coach Randy Edall.
Maryland is averaging a mere 1.9 yards per carry and its leading rusher, Wes Brown, has 150 yards. Five ACC teams are averaging at least 151 yards rushing per game, twice that of the Terrapins (71.3).
Somehow, the Terps beat Virginia last week 27-20 despite finishing with minus-2 yards rushing.
"There's no question we've got to better running the football. We're going to continue to work on it," Edsall said Tuesday. "We can't do any more than what we're doing in terms of practice time. It gets back to just doing the little things right."
Inexperience is a factor. Maryland starts two freshmen on the offensive line, tackle Mike Madaras and guard Andew Zeller. Three of the four rotating running backs are freshmen and the other, Justus Pickett, is a sophomore. Pickett started against Virginia and rushed 15 times for minus-8 yards.
"The offensive line, when you have young guys who don't have experience, and when you're changing guys in and out, you don't get the kind of consistency that you need," Edsall said. "I think the offensive line has got to get better. They know that. We'll just keep drilling them."
A solid running game would take some of the pressure off freshman quarterback Perry Hills, who has been forced to throw to keep drives alive. Maryland has picked up 51 first downs on passes and only 28 via the run; its longest rush of the season went for 21 yards.
"I don't know, maybe we'll have to be a team that's going to have to throw the ball to set up the run," Edsall conceded.
It won't get any easier this Saturday against North Carolina State (4-2, 1-1), which ranks fourth in the ACC in rushing defense.