When your defense gives up 90 points in two games, it kind of gets fast-tracked to the top of the oh-shit list. As previously noted, I think the Terps’ defensive success hinges on middle LB Alex Wujciak. Wujciak has a team-high 17 tackles. He’s certainly not playing poorly. But on further review, Wujciak has six solo stops, only 0.5 tackles for loss, no TOs forced or recovered. He’s like NFL Lavar Arrington — always getting there just quickly enough to jump on the pile and high-five his teammates. Put another way, Wujciak needs to do more than make tackles. He needs to make plays. And so far, he hasn’t made enough, in my opinion, especially in this new blitz-happy scheme.
A recent quote of his got my attention. When asked for his reaction to CB Nolan Carroll’s season-ending injury, he responded thusly:
“He broke his leg? That’s going to hurt us. He’s our leader.”
Interesting choice of leader, when Wujciak was the unit’s clear standout last year and earlier this summer discussed pretty extensively his desire to be a big-time player. Is it just me, or is he reluctant in (or abdicating) this leadership role? (Also, way to be aware of your teammate’s situation.)
I know he’s only 21. And there’s plenty of blame to go around for the defense. Not every star player has to be William Wallace or Stephen Hawking (you know, minus the Lou Gehrig’s disease) out there. So maybe I’m drinking too much Haterade. But he’s one of my favorite guys on the team. I have high expectations. Big hopes. And out of the gate, it’s clear the D needs some on-field guidance. Wujciak was teed up by everyone — including himself — to provide that guidance. Here’s hoping he does. Soon. Anytime is good.
(Photo credit: Adam Fried/The Diamondback)