Maryland seeks quick fix to flawed defense as matchup with unbeaten Syracuse looms ahead

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COLLEGE PARK, Maryland — The game plan was fine. The execution was not.

That's how Maryland coach Randy Edsall explained the horrid performance of his defense against West Virginia last Saturday in a 40-37 defeat.

The Terrapins surrendered 33 first downs and 694 total yards, their worst defensive performance since Florida State piled up 858 yards against them in 1992.

"It just gets back to the basics," coach Randy Edsall said Tuesday. "If you do the basics the right way, a lot of that stuff would have been taken care of."

Maryland (2-1) has much to correct and not a lot of time to do it. The Terrapins visit Syracuse (2-0) on Saturday in their first game against an Atlantic Coast Conference foe since leaving the conference.

While ground-oriented Syracuse is far less likely to pile up 511 passing yards, as West Virginia did, the Orange won't hesitate to exploit Maryland's miscues.

"One time we had basically had a double on a guy and he ran right through a double because our eyes weren't where they were supposed to be," Edsall said. "If we put our eyes where they're supposed to be, we have the guy covered, he's not going to beat you and they're probably not going to throw the football there. It's just little things like that."

Some of the struggles were understandable. West Virginia, a talented team comfortable with a fast tempo, was bound to put up some yards. In addition, the Terps were without two starting linebackers. Senior L.A. Goree sat out with a back injury, while senior Yannik Cudjoe-Virgil (foot) missed his third consecutive game. Edsall said Cudjoe-Virgil practiced Tuesday.

What was perhaps the most startling part of the Terrapins' problems Saturday was the contrast they provided to the first two games. Maryland allowed 302 yards in a 52-7 win over James Madison to open the season, and just 257 yards and one offensive touchdown in a 24-17 victory at South Florida the following week.

That success is part of the reason the Terps believe they can bounce back from Saturday's performance.

"I definitely think it's fixable," senior nose tackle Darius Kilgo said. "I think on some plays, we weren't all on the same page."

Most importantly, Maryland isn't dwelling on one of its most dismal defensive days, at least statistically, is some time.

"We're ready to go," sophomore cornerback William Likely said. "That's behind us. What happened in the past is in the past."

And moving forward, Edsall is emphasizing his back-to-basics approach.

"We have to get everybody to take of their responsibility and get everybody flying to the football," Edsall said. "I don't want to hear about injuries. I don't want to hear about any of that stuff. Whoever is in there, we're confident they can go in and do the job. It just gets down to doing your job, taking care of your responsibility, everybody playing team defense."

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