Military Bowl notebook
WASHINGTON - Seeing quarterbacks such as Rakeem Cato isn't a novelty at Maryland these days. Far from it.
As Terrapins coach Randy Edsall points out, "We've played against some pretty good ones - Jameis Winston, Tajh Boyd."
More than enough said.
Note that he said the Terrapins have played against those two. He didn't say his team beat those two. Or even came close. Or in the same area code.
Florida State's Winston got his Heisman Trophy campaign cranking up with 393 passing yards and five touchdowns in a 63-0 smackdown of the Terps in Tallahassee. Boyd threw for 304 yards and a touchdown, plus a fourth-quarter rushing touchdown that helped Clemson escape College Park with a 40-27 win.
After trying to tackle those outstanding dual-threat quarterbacks and a few others who aren't shabby, Edsall's group has turned its attention to Marshall, the opponent in today's Military Bowl at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.
Cato enters the contest with 3,579 passing yards and 279 net rushing yards on the season. More telling is the numerous times he has escaped a collapsing pocket or hit a suddenly open receiver on a full run. As one opposing player once remarked, "With Cato, there are no busted plays."
Edsall sees that, certainly.
"We know he's a threat and we've got to be disciplined and make sure we keep proper leverage on him. He's a challenge, and he's a guy has our attention," Edsall said.
Terps have holes to fill
The Terrapins have operated this week down one receiver and an assistant coach.
Ricardo Young, a reserve quarterback switched to wide receiver to shore up depth at that position, was suspended this week for a violation of team rules. He had no catches, but was moved to that position to compensate for season-ending injuries to Stefon Diggs and Deon Long.
Defensive line coach Greg Gattuso left for more honorable reasons, taking the head-coaching job at Albany. That left Edsall and staff scrambling to fill the void.
"It's just like anything else. When a player goes down, somebody else steps up. So that's what's happened - every guy on the defensive staff has stepped up. [Outside linebackers coach] Lyndon Johnson has been handling the defensive line in the meetings, and working with them. Our graduate assistant's been helping out as well. I've been down there working with them a little bit when the practice is going on.
"It's been a collective effort."
It helps to have some veteran presence on the line in Maryland's hybrid 3-4 defense, and by this time of year everybody feels like they've been around awhile. Nose tackle Darius Kilgo is a junior with 22 career starts and defensive end Quinton Jefferson is a sophomore with 12 and junior Andre Monroe is a junior with seven. And Monroe is the most productive of the bunch.
MU adjusts helmet
The Herd is altering its helmets slightly, turning the "M" into a American-flag look. The "75," honoring the number of those who perished in the 1970 Marshall plane crash, will remain on the left side.
The green stripes that run from front to back will be replaced by red and white stripes. At the front center of the helmet, which usually reads "HERD," will show a tribute to the five U.S. military branches - Navy, Marines, Army, Air Force and Coast Guard.
Always ready for action
Thirty minutes before the bowl luncheon Thursday, 90-year-old Hershel "Woody" Williams was informed he'd be the guest speaker. That was no problem for Williams, the Huntington-area resident who is the only surviving Medal of Honor recipient from the Battle of Iwo Jima.
He simply went up in his full army garb and acted like himself, picking Marshall by six points, throwing a few stories and a slightly risqué joke.
MU coach Doc Holliday even had a quip, pointing to Williams' age (by the way, Williams doesn't look a day over 80).
"I promise you if he were a football coach, he wouldn't be here right now," Holliday joked.
And finally, Edsall pondered what would happen if he coached a basketball team in a game officiated by brother Duke Edsall. Duke Edsall has called a number of games at Marshall, and is generally well liked by fans at Cam Henderson Center.
Randy Edsall figures it wouldn't go well for him.
"I would get thrown out if I was the coach and he's the official," he said. "I would end up being all over him, I'm sure. Luckily, he's a basketball official."
Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130, email@example.com or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.