Friedgen puts focus on correcting offense

Coaches dissect unit's subpar showing last week

College Football

October 17, 2001|By Christian Ewell | By Christian Ewell,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK - Maryland football coach Ralph Friedgen made no bones about his team's good fortune in leaving Atlanta with a win over Georgia Tech last week, a victory that has propelled the team to its highest ranking since 1985.

The No. 12 Terps forced six Yellow Jackets turnovers, but their offense had its highest error ratio of the season.

The corrections will be a major focus heading into Saturday's home game against winless Duke.

Seven penalties, two dropped passes, two interceptions and three sacks accounted for a 19 percent error rate over 75 plays, well over the 12 percent mark that Friedgen prescribes for victory.

"We dodged a bullet," said Friedgen, vexed by his offense's inability to take advantage of a solid defensive effort. "When you force six turnovers, the game shouldn't be close."

But it was, with the offense gaining 302 yards - the lowest total since the season-opening win over North Carolina - and committing two turnovers.

Over the weekend, the Maryland staff identified the team's inability to recognize the fronts that Georgia Tech was showing, missed assignments by the offensive line and errant passes when receivers beat the men covering them.

Thus, Jafar Williams' 11-yard run on an end-around was the lone score by the offense, which recovered late in the game to make a rapid drive, setting up the last-second field goal by Nick Novak to send the game into overtime.

Friedgen, proud of quarterback Shaun Hill for leading the key drive in a two-minute drill, also chided him for missing an open Williams on a possible touchdown.

"We have to throw the ball better than we're throwing it," the coach said.

Not underestimating Duke

Friedgen found motivation for his players this week: Duke's last visit to Byrd Stadium on Oct. 30, 1999.

That was the day the Terps, seemingly cruising toward a bowl appearance with a 5-2 record, faced the 1-6 Blue Devils.

"I just reminded them that two years ago at homecoming, they got beaten by Duke," Friedgen said of the game, the first of four straight losses in a season that ended at 5-6.

"Homecoming, 1 p.m. - the only difference is Jefferson-Pilot," Maryland wide receiver Guilian Gary said, recognizing that this game will be televised where the 1999 game wasn't. "Everything else is the same. If it happens again, what are we to do?"

Friedgen said he had every indication that his team was prepared for Saturday and not looking ahead to the Oct. 27 Florida State game.

"No, we are not underestimating Duke," he said. "We had a very intense practice [Monday] and I liked the way we worked."

Moye-Moore makes return

Marlon Moye-Moore made his first appearance in a Maryland uniform Thursday, meaning that he will not redshirt this season.

The senior linebacker, who had 108 tackles last season, had served a mandatory suspension that began when he was charged with assault and robbery in February and ended last month when he was acquitted on the felony robbery charge.

Friedgen said Moye-Moore could have sat out this season and played next year, but "I said we're 5-0 and we have a chance to be something really special.

"There are no guarantees next year."

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