UM's Jackson gets defensive, and makes his presence felt


Safety from Wilde Lake sets tone with interception

September 30, 2001|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK -- Maryland Terrapins senior strong safety Tony Jackson did not take long to make an imprint on yesterday's 32-20 victory over West Virginia.

Just when it appeared the Mountaineers were about to score first after marching 74 yards on their opening possession, Jackson leaped in front of West Virginia receiver Antonio Brown for an interception that set the tone for a Maryland defense that would force six turnovers, negating 430 yards of offense by West Virginia.

Jackson, out of Wilde Lake High School, was only getting started.

During the Mountaineers' next series, he broke up a third-down pass by quarterback Brad Lewis intended for Brown. During the next series, he foiled a sideline pass headed for Brown inside the Terps' 10 with blanket coverage. Jackson chipped in another big play by recovering a fumble, thus ending West Virginia's first possession of the second half.

"Tony Jackson is like a quarterback out there. He's a leader who takes care of the secondary," Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen said.

"We have a great scheme, and we're in the right position, and we're making the play when we have to make the play," said Jackson, who finished with 10 tackles, including six solo, and three pass deflections.

Maybe the most impressive part of Jackson's performance was his cornerback-like ability to stay with fleet receivers like Brown. Jackson continuously was exposed to one-on-one coverage when the Terps blitzed.

Room to improve

Friedgen had plenty to be angry about, despite keeping his undefeated streak alive in his rookie year as a head coach. Let's start with the Terps' poor special teams play.

Maryland continues to have problems kicking extra points, as each of its kickers, Nick Novak and Vedad Siljkovic, failed in that phase of the game. Novak's attempt was blocked after Maryland's second score. Siljkovic sliced his try to the right, keeping the Terps' lead at 19-13. After Maryland extended its lead to 25-13, Friedgen tried for a two-point conversion, which also failed.

"We got one [extra-point attempt] blocked, we shanked one. I haven't seen anything like that since high school," Friedgen said. "Even the first one by Nick [a successful kick], I thought was low. Vedad just missed it. He just choked. Let's call it what it is. He's better than that."

It got worse. After Shaun Hill combined with Guilian Gary for a 29-yard touchdown pass to put the Terps in front, 25-13, West Virginia's Shawn Terry answered with a 100-yard kickoff return to cut the lead to 25-20.

Friedgen miffed at crowd

Friedgen also was miffed by the crowd of 40,166. Besides being nearly 8,000 short of a sellout, the fans were a little too passive for Friedgen.

"We're 3-0, we're playing an interstate rival. I expect the place to be filled. I expect it to be filled next Saturday [against Virginia], I don't care if we play at 12 o'clock at night," he said.

"We've got enough people who have graduated from this university, they should be getting on the bandwagon. There's no better way to spend a Saturday afternoon than back at your alma mater seeing them be successful. We're 4-0, we've got a major ACC game this week, and I want to have a home-field advantage. I probably shouldn't say that, but that's just the way I feel."

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