Putting dukes up won't be easy

No. 12 Terps to battle overconfidence against winless Blue Devils

Maryland notebook

College Football

October 15, 2001|By Christian Ewell | Christian Ewell,SUN STAFF

Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen could have his biggest challenge in motivating his football team this week.

After an upset victory on the road against Georgia Tech, good for a promotion to No. 12 in the Associated Press rankings and No. 14 in the ESPN/USA Today coaches' poll yesterday, whatever the team does for an encore this Saturday will come against Duke, a team with an 18-game losing streak.

The need for a sober approach is obvious, Friedgen said. Despite the Terps' 6-0 record (4-0 Atlantic Coast Conference), extra wins won't hurt heading into their game in Tallahassee against stumbling yet dangerous Florida State.

"A win against Duke counts the same as a win vs. Florida State," the coach said. "We need to forget Georgia Tech and start to focus on Duke."

After days off on Friday and Saturday, Maryland players returned for study hall yesterday with practice to resume today. Eastern Michigan was their last opponent rated as low as the Blue Devils (0-6, 0-4). Unfazed, the Terps defeated Eastern Michigan, 50-3, on Sept. 8.

Maryland's best start since 1978, coupled with Duke's continued struggles, lends a Goliath-David context to the game. Still, Friedgen said Duke is due for a win, just as his squad was due for a victory on Thursday against then-No. 15 Georgia Tech to break a string of 34 straight losses against ranked teams.

Moreover, the coach said his team should be wary of slipping in what is shaping up to be a tight ACC race. Two future opponents - Florida State and Clemson - have one league loss each, while another, North Carolina State, sits two games back.

For the league title, "I wouldn't be surprised to see two losses tie," said Friedgen, who added he might also appeal to his team's fear of going bowl-less again. "I'm going to tell them that even though we're bowl-eligible, we don't have to be picked for a bowl. We have to keep winning."

Hours pay off in 2 minutes

The fruits from two of the situational drills Maryland uses in practice were plainly visible during the last two minutes of the Georgia Tech game.

The Terps' two-minute drill had been painstakingly rehearsed, with success coming in fits and starts during the fall camp. Only recently had the team been effective with it in game situations, at the end of the first half against West Virginia.

But it shined for all to see Thursday. Maryland was trailing Georgia Tech with little more than a minute to go, and Shaun Hill completed five of seven passes for 51 yards before spiking the ball with five seconds left to stop the clock.

"We take a lot of pride in it in practice," Hill said. "We hadn't had much success in them until two or three weeks ago. ... It paid off."

After Hill spiked the ball, the kicking unit ran onto the field. The only thing missing was Friedgen yelling "white-white," his cue for the group to prepare for a field goal at the end of practices. He counts down from about five seconds, wherein a kick must be attempted.

The clock was stopped on Thursday night before Nick Novak hit a 46-yarder to send the game into overtime.

Miscellaneous

Tailback Bruce Perry, who had led the nation in rushing since Sept. 22, fell to fifth (145.0 yards per game) after gaining 49 yards on 18 carries against Georgia Tech. ... Friedgen said he was happy with the play of first-year players Randy Starks and Rich Parson. Starks was the one who pushed a Georgia Tech offensive lineman into tailback Joe Burns in overtime, causing a fumble that Terps safety Randall Jones recovered to end the game. Parson was the decoy on an end-around that Jafar Williams ran in for a touchdown in the second quarter, but also caught two passes for 23 yards, including the 17-yarder that immediately preceded Novak's kick to tie the game. ... The team was greeted by 40 or 50 students on campus Friday morning when it returned from Atlanta, and also received an ovation from fans at basketball's Midnight Madness event early Saturday morning. ... Wide receiver Daryl Whitmer (knee) may return for the Duke game.

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