Maryland Defensive Backs Reshuffle After Tarheeb Still’s Injury

Maryland football cornerback Tarheeb Still had surgery to repair a tendon in his finger. The injury happened in the locker room. He missed the Terps’ last game against the Charlotte 49ers and will not play against the SMU Mustangs on Saturday. Terps head coach Mike Locksley does expect him to be back for the Terps Big Ten matchup against No. 4 Michigan Wolverines.

“The good thing for us is we played a game without him in our lineup. Tarheeb is one of those versatile DB’s [defensive backs] that starts at the nickel position for us and also plays cornerback,” Locksley said about Still’s absence. “This past week, we were able to get Glen Miller more involved and play more of what we call our big nickel alignment.”

Miller brings physicality to the position because he can blitz off the edge and rush the quarterback or ball carrier. Locksley said that because he played cornerback early in his career and moved to safety, the staff felt that Miller gives the defense the best opportunity to succeed against opposing slot receivers.

Locksley added that the communication from the defensive backs has been great this week in practice. He knows that SMU will be a challenge for that group, since they will be the fastest tempo team they face all year. Their offense also puts a lot of points on the board.

“Our goal is to get the call, get aligned as quickly as we can, and play with great eye discipline. They offer a lot of different challenges in their different exotic formations, the unbalanced things. Because of the tempo in which they play, it’s going to be really important that the communication is great this week.”

So who has to step up in Still’s place?

Freshman cornerbacks Lionell Whitaker (No. 17) and Gavin Gibson (No. 26) are guys Locksley is counting on to do that.

“Losing Tarheeb obviously because of the experience he has you can’t get it back, but what we do is we prepare for these opportunities. That’s why you see No. 17 out there playing in the first game against Buffalo and [giving us] some meaningful snaps. That’s why you see No. 26 out there playing meaningful snaps early because injuries are a part of the game,” Locksley said about the freshmen.

He doesn’t spend time fretting over losing guys to injury because the team has to have the next man up mentality.

“We’ve recruited to create depth so that when we do face injuries, the next man has to go in and play. I’ve been really happy with the way the two freshman corners, 17 and 26, have played. They don’t know what they don’t know. That’s been great because they come in, and they compete.”

Locksley expects Still to return for Maryland’s conference opener next weekend at Michigan.

This will be a great opportunity for those guys. Jakorian Bennett and Deonte Banks will also be instrumental in creating big-play opportunities against SMU.

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