Game Saturday against Clemson is Terps' first sellout since 1995

51,000 expected at Byrd for team's home finale

Maryland notebook

November 07, 2001|By Christian Ewell | Christian Ewell,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK - Maryland officials announced a sellout for Saturday's game against Clemson, reaching that milestone for the first time since 1995.

Approximately 51,000 are expected for the 7 p.m. game, which would be the school's largest crowd since 51,200 came to Byrd Stadium for the Maryland-North Carolina contest in 1983.

Seniors for the 13th-ranked Terrapins were excited about the opportunity to play the final home game of their careers in front of a packed house.

Given the contrast between the half-empty stadiums they've played in for much of their careers and the capacity crowd expected for Saturday, it will be hard for the players to ignore.

"I remember my first game, and there were only 30,000 out here," said Terps senior running back Marc Riley. "I'm going to take a little glance, because this will be my senior finale."

Byrd Stadium has normally seated 48,055 since its 1995 expansion - filled only once since then, for the Maryland-West Virginia game in 1995 - but roughly 3,000 seats were added to the concourse at the stadium's west end. The highest previous attendance was Oct. 29, 1983, when the Terps beat North Carolina, 28-26.

The announcement was rewarding for Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen, who had complained about non-sellout crowds despite being ranked among the nation's top 10 teams as recently as two weeks ago.

"It's something I've wanted to accomplish here ever since I've taken the job," Friedgen said. "Hopefully, it will be a very lively and raucous crowd and give us a lot of support."

Novak's renaissance

Maryland kicker Nick Novak, who turned extra points into an adventure during the early part of the season, has become entertaining for better reasons of late.

The redshirt freshman from Charlottesville, Va., had 17 points last week and forced three touchbacks. One of his three field goals was a 50-yarder, his second successful kick of 50 yards or more this season.

After a 4-for-11 start this season, Novak has made eight of his past nine field-goal attempts, the most notable of which was his then-career-long 46-yarder that sent the Georgia Tech game into overtime Oct. 11.

He has watched that game several times and chuckles at the criticism he received from the commentators during the course of that game, because his longest kick up to that point had been from 33 yards.

Some of that has changed.

"I just need to keep performing," he said. "I'm starting to show people that I do have the leg."

End zone

Friedgen said Shaun Hill will be fine. The senior quarterback left Saturday's game against Troy State with a high-ankle sprain. The same goes for linebacker Marlon Moye-Moore and cornerback Dennard Wilson, who suffered hamstring injuries. ... Reserve safety Tyrone Stewart is still doubtful with a hip flexor and a sprained foot, though he says he will be ready. ... Linebacker Mike Whaley is expected to return to play this weekend after sitting out Saturday because of a nerve injury.

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