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.