While fans who have been following the Terps this season are baffled by the seemingly large number of ACL injuries this season, Edsall and the Terrapins said that there are not an abnormal amount of ACL injuries this season compared to past ones. The misconception may stem from three of the ACL tears all striking the quarterback position with junior quarterback C.J. Brown tearing his back in August during a non-contact drill, freshman Perry Hills suffering an injury when he was blocked in the back and freshman Caleb Rowe tearing his ACL when he was running out of bounds towards the end of the game against Boston College.
Hartsfield tore his ACL when he was taking a block and the blocker led into his knee. Hartsfield, a quiet player both on-and-off the field and a self-described leader by example, is a huge loss for a talented Terps' defense that was gashed on the ground Saturday by Georgia Tech's triple option rushing attack.
"I feel bad for any of the guys that get injured,” Maryland head coach Randy Edsall said. “I have seen the work they have put in to get themselves out on the field and to play a game that they truly love and then have it taken away. But that is part of the way that the game is played; there are no guarantees. Yesterday, when we got the news back from the MRI, he [Hartsfield] asked what he needed to do to get back and to get better and get healthy. Demetrius is a guy who is very even-keeled. He is not a guy who shows a ton of emotion, so he was not sitting there feeling sorry for himself. I know he is disappointed, and was playing really well.”
Sophomore linebacker L.A. Goree will take over Hartsfield's spot on the starting defense. Goree started last season and was competing for a starting linebacker spot which ultimately went to sophomore Cole Farrand. Even though Goree has experience, Edsall is still worried about the lack of leadership on defense without Hartsfield in the middle.
“We still have a void when it comes to the leadership that Demetrius provided,” Edsall said. “We need someone to take that role over and be a leader. From a spirit standpoint, he is disappointed but he is handling it the best way he can. He understands that he needs to move on and focus on having surgery and working hard to get himself another opportunity to play football down the road.”
There have been chatter that the reason so many of Maryland's players are getting injured is because of the new turf field that was installed in Byrd Stadium over the offseason and the strength and conditioning program at the school. The theory about the turf field has been rejected by many who argue that Rowe was injured when playing away at Boston College and that if the turf was as dangerous as others argue, players from visiting teams should also be more prone to injury. Edsall also argued against the allegations that the strength and conditioning program at Maryland is inadequate in protecting the Terps.
“I hear all of this stuff about strength and conditioning and turf, all of these things, and it's unfortunate that these injuries happen, but that happens in the game of football,” Edsall said. “And I think that's a lot of it. But [strength and conditioning coach] Drew [Wilson] is doing a great job in the weight room with our guys, but there is nothing that you can do to strengthen the ACL.”
At 4-5 after losing three straight games, the Terps are seeing their chances of playing in a bowl game slip away. The Terps will need two more wins against nationally ranked Clemson and Florida State or from North Carolina to become bowl eligible. Even with all the injuries, Edsall said the team has maintained a positive attitude and has not lost sight of their goals of making it to the postseason.
“You have to stay close and you have to stay together,” Edsall said. “I think that's probably been the truest measure for this group, you can see that they are a team. They are not individuals. They believe in themselves and they believe in each other. They want each other to do well, and it's like it's a test. I told them when we lost Caleb, `This is just a test. The good lord is just testing us to see how strong we are and how much we have as a team. And are we going to stick together?' Those are the kind of messages that I send and I tell our team about. That nobody, regardless of what happens, can pull us apart, or have us deviate from what we want to accomplish.”
The Terps will travel to Clemson, S.C. to face the No. 13 Clemson Tigers on Saturday at 3:30 p.m.