As of yet, no word on A.J. Hendy or Kenny Tate, both of which were hoped to be back by UConn. But Maryland's starting strong safety Matt Robinson and back-up cornerback Isaac Goins are back on the depth chart and back in the game, giving Maryland some critical experience and reinforcements to their much-maligned secondary.
The new depth chart isn't online yet, but Patrick Stevens breaks down the changes. Most of them are minor - Wes Brown making the two-deep, still behind Justus Pickett, is probably the only other thing worthy of note - but Robinson's return is huge. Sean Davis was, for the most part, okay in his two games starting, but he had a high-profile gaffe on one of Temple's long touchdown passes, missing coverage over the top. Robinson sometimes gets some stick for being more active in stopping the run than helping out in the pass game, but he probably doesn't make that mistake. Having his experience back in the secondary should still help smooth things over significantly for a troubled unit.
And he's not the only guy coming back, with JuCo transfer Isaac Goins slated to see the first playing time of his career as well. He's an unknown quantity to some degree, but is more mentally and physically developed from his time playing in JuCos and should be another welcome addition, especially as he was around in spring ball to soak up the system.
If Hendy can get back by Saturday as well, Maryland's secondary will finally be fully healthy and almost assuredly vastly improved from the frankly poor unit they were in the first two games. There's much more experience and talented depth on that depth chart now, and while Dexter McDougle still needs to improve, a lot of problems just took care of themselves. Even without Hendy, things are looking up.
And that's big. As more and more teams learn they can't run on Maryland's front seven, they'll look to exploit the Terrapins' much-weaker secondary. At the moment, they aren't really good enough to prevent that from happening. With Robinson, Goins, and maybe Hendy back in pads? Probably a different story.
Even just looking ahead to UConn, this shakes things up plenty. The Huskies can't run the ball at the moment to start with, and things are only going to get worse against Maryland's defensive front. With the nation's most interception-prone QB at the helm in Chandler Whitmer, Paul Pasqualoni had a tough choice: either take your chances through the air, or try to grind out just enough on the ground. And it was certainly a much easier call to let Whitmer fly before Robinson was roaming around in the secondary. He ain't Ed Reed, but he's experienced enough to know how to take advantage of a poorly-thrown ball, and Whitmer has enough of a tendency for those that it puts UConn back between a rock and a hard place.
Speaking of, first look at UConn coming up tomorrow. But first, praise the football injury gods for finally taking some pity on us.