Terps defenders draw praise for play in win over FIU

When the ball was snapped, cornerback Dexter McDougle bolted off the edge and made a beeline for Florida International quarterback Jake Medlock.

Maryland's fifth-year senior slammed into Medlock from the blind side just as he was releasing a second-quarter pass that sailed incomplete.

"Almost got him," McDougle said, shaking his head and smiling afterward.

Maryland scored 40 first-half points in its 43-10 season-opening victory over FIU. It was hard for the media not to focus on the team's offensive output.

But coaches were also pleased with the defensive pressure applied by the front seven — with help from the cornerbacks.

The Terps had five sacks Saturday against FIU's inexperienced offensive line. McDougle and fellow cornerback Jeremiah Johnson made their presence felt. "Coach called my number [on blitzes] a couple more times than usual. I love it," McDougle said.

McDougle also had a juggling, third-quarter interception. The Terps only had four interceptions last season — none by McDougle or Johnson.

Johnson appeared to suffer a foot or leg injury during the game. Maryland coach Randy Edsall declined to offer details Sunday on the redshirt junior's status. The Terps aren't required to provide injury reports before nonconference games this season, and do not plan to do so.

Maryland lost its top five sack leaders from 2012, so there has been some concern about getting to the passer this season.

"I thought we got really good pressure [against FIU]," Edsall said Sunday. "Yards per carry was under three yards a carry (2.3). That's good but we've still got a lot of room for improvement."

Linebacker Marcus Whitfield's five tackles included 1 ½ sacks.

Whitfield got the game ball on defense. C.J. Brown, who passed for 281 yards and ran for 105, was given the game ball on offense.

Sophomore defensive end Quinton Jefferson got the first sack of his career.

Defensive line coach Greg Gattuso said he planned on calling Jefferson "Kitty Kat" until he recorded his first sack. He played in 10 games last season and had 13 tackles — but no sacks.

"Just glad to get that monkey off my back," Jefferson said. "Everybody was saying who is going to get the first sack this season."

Nose tackle Darius Kilgo collected the first sack in the first quarter.

"It was a race to the quarterback," Jefferson said.

jeff.barker@baltsun.com

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