Terrapins spring into new era in football

Friedgen brings pace to opening practice

April 01, 2001|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK - Ralph Friedgen had his squad moving.

It was only the first day of spring football practice yesterday for Maryland, but Friedgen, in his inaugural season as coach, had his players flying from station to station as if Florida State were on the schedule for next week. The loafing that sometimes marks spring practices was nonexistent.

"It was a real high tempo, but that was good for us," quarterback Shaun Hill said. "The tempo was definitely what we weren't use to. But it was definitely a good tempo to have, because it is going to make game situations a lot easier."

If the players think yesterday's practice was fast-paced, Friedgen said, they have not seen anything yet.

"It's going to be a lot faster as soon as they know where they're going," Friedgen said. "I expect it to get better. [The pace was a] little slow for me.

"But overall, I was pretty pleased. I thought there was a lot of learning, not only of what we're putting in, but where to line up and what the coaches expect. I thought the conditioning was pretty good."

Friedgen made sure before yesterday that his team would be in shape. One of his first mandates after replacing Ron Vanderlinden was early-morning running (5:30 a.m.) twice a week.

It paid dividends yesterday, when his team was able to run more than 200 plays without players asking to come out because of exhaustion.

Friedgen had Hill taking most of the snaps. The senior will compete with Calvin McCall, now away with the basketball team at the Final Four, to be the starting quarterback.

"They're going to battle it out, and we'll see," Friedgen said. "But I wouldn't count the other kids out. They're just young. ... What I've asked them to learn is very difficult. We run [the] option, [and] about six different formations with motion. So, I'm going to stress them mentally to see how they learn it. It's a question of how fast can you think when you're tired."

Last year, Hill, a 6-foot-3, 235-pound senior, completed 73 of 126 passes with six touchdowns in mostly backup duty. Neither McCall nor Hill will have star running back Lamont Jordan to carry the load this season.

Instead, Marc Riley headlines a number of guys looking to take Jordan's carries.

"There's going to be no replacing him," Riley said. "All I can do is play my type of football and contribute to the team to the best of our ability."

The Terps, 5-6 last season, will return eight starters on offense and defense. Maryland will practice 15 times this spring, ending in the annual Red-White game on April 28 at Byrd Stadium.

Friedgen, who was offensive coordinator at Georgia Tech last season but is a Maryland graduate, said he is looking to improve the passing offense this spring.

"I want to learn the offense, defense and special teams from a knowledge standpoint," Friedgen said. "I want to find out who the playmakers are, who the winners are. I want to stay well because we're kind of low in numbers. So, this is going to be more of a learning spring than a physical spring."

Already, the players have learned that their new coach will not tolerate any lackadaisical play.

"Coach Friedgen, he's a no-nonsense type of guy," Riley said. "He wants us to be perfect in every aspect of the game."

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