Terps still searching for workhorse running back

The YouTube video just keeps going and going. Running back Jordan Todman is taking handoff after handoff, pitch after pitch, often carrying the ball deep into the opposition's secondary.

It was 2010 and Todman and his Connecticut team — led by current Maryland coach Randy Edsall — were on their way to a 30-28 victory over Pittsburgh. Todman carried 37 times for 222 yards. The video shows every carry and yard.

Edsall seemed to have a fondness for workhorse backs then, and he still does today. But, in his second season at Maryland, Edsall is still looking for his Todman. And for the accompanying comfort level of handing the ball — repeatedly — to a talented tailback he implicitly trusts.

"Ideally, I'd like to have one guy who is really kind of the main guy if it works out that way," Edsall said as Maryland (1-0, 0-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) prepared for its game Saturday against Temple (1-0, 0-0 Big East) at Philadelphia's Lincoln Financial Field.

"That's one of the things we're finding out — who can be that guy. That's all depending on the players," Edsall said.

Sophomore Justus Pickett and freshman Albert Reid split time at tailback in last week's 7-6 victory over William and Mary.

Maryland did not produce the dominant running game that might have been expected of a team whose offensive line had a noticeable size advantage at the line of scrimmage.

The Terps averaged 294 pounds across their starting offensive line, while William and Mary's defensive line averaged 261 pounds.

But the Terps rushed for just 91 yards. Reid, the starter, often seemed to be hit early — before he could muster any speed. He had 12 carries for 29 yards (2.4 yards per carry). Reid committed one of Maryland's four turnovers with a fumble.

Pickett fared better, rushing 11 times for 45 yards (4.1 average) and the game's only touchdown.

Pickett, who said he intentionally packed on 15 pounds during the offseason and now weighs about 195, was named by Edsall as the starter against the Owls.

But it's not clear yet if Pickett will emerge as "the one" this season. Redshirt freshman Brandon Ross, who remains sidelined by a hamstring injury, and freshman Wes Brown are also seeking carries.

Edsall said his offensive philosophy is shaped by the talents of his players at any given time. He has certainly had his share of run-heavy teams.

Edsall's 2010 Connecticut team — which finished 8-5 with a Fiesta Bowl appearance — relied on Todman, who gained 1,695 yards with a 5.1 yards per carry average and 14 touchdowns.

That season, the Huskies averaged more rushing yards per game (175) than passing yards (151).

Todman, now with the NFL's Minnesota Vikings, had the second-most carries in the Football Bowl Subdivision in 2010, behind only Western Kentucky's Bobby Rainey, a current member of the Ravens.

Maryland offensive coordinator Mike Locksley has also helped develop a handful of top running backs as an assistant coach. The list includes former Terps Bruce Perry and LaMont Jordan and Illinois star Rashard Mendenhall, the 2007 Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year.

Locksley said a reliable running game is particularly important this season because the Terps are eager to provide help for freshman quarterback Perry Hills.

"With a young quarterback, the run game can be his best friend," Locksley said. "I thought we were too inconsistent last week in the run game, and for us to be the team we need to be this week, we've got to find a way to run the football a little bit."

William and Mary's defense seemed to crowd the box, halting runs before they developed.