MIAMI - In keeping with his policy of not using players who don't practice, Maryland football coach Ralph Friedgen said it was unlikely left guard Todd Wike would play in the Orange Bowl against Florida on Wednesday night.
Wike, a fourth-year junior and first-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference selection from Lebanon, Pa., didn't practice for the fourth consecutive day, sitting out with a swollen right ankle that was stepped on in consecutive practices last week.
Yesterday, he walked into practice with a brace on the ankle. While Friedgen said he would hold out one more day before declaring Wike out, he sounded doubtful.
"I don't think he's going to play, just from what I've seen," Friedgen said after a practice in which tailback Bruce Perry, recovering from an abdominal pull, reportedly performed well.
If Wike can't play, his replacement will likely be Kyle Schmitt, a redshirt freshman who has played in every game this season either as a reserve for Wike or in mop-up time for center Melvin Fowler.
Fowler, a senior who will be making his 45th straight start, said he does not expect the change to disrupt the Terrapins' offensive line, a vital part of the team's plans to control the clock in hopes of keeping Florida's explosive offense (527.5 yards a game) off the field.
"I don't think it disrupts us at all," Fowler said. "Kyle Schmitt has done a great job for us throughout the season. He'll do a great job if Todd can't play."
"Eveyrone's healthy enough to go out and play," tailback Marc Riley said. "And if they play, they're going to give it their all. Every team is probably nicked up or banged up. If you can't tough through injuries, why are you even playing the game?"
Another area that might need juggling is the Maryland secondary. Strong safety Tony Jackson may exit, and cornerback Tony Okanlawon may return to the lineup after an extended absence because of an undisclosed medical condition.
Jackson, a senior and another All-ACC first-teamer, rolled an ankle in practice on Dec. 20. Though the Wilde Lake graduate has participated in all but one practice since the Terps arrived in Miami, he hasn't reached full speed, grimacing when he makes an attempt.
"He was limited. We're just going to have to see how things go in these next couple of days," said Friedgen, who was otherwise pleased with the intensity of practice.
If Jackson couldn't go, Maryland's secondary would consist of Dennard Wilson at Jackson's safety spot and Randall Jones at free safety, with Okanlawon and Curome Cox at the corners.
Friedgen said he was still unsure that Okanlawon would play against Florida. He said the senior has indicated he would like to play against Florida and he is well enough to go.
However, though Okanlawon's five interceptions were good enough for first-team all-conference honors, his last action was in the Duke game Oct. 20, 73 days ago. That could give him enough time to develop a considerable amount of rust, even with the occasional practice thrown in.
"We won't know until game time whether he's back to where he was," Friedgen said. "Every now and then, he makes a good play and he looks like he's back and ready to go. ...
"I think he's made a tremendous impact this season. I don't think we'd be where we were without him, so if at all possible, I'd like to see him finish it."
Otherwise, the last of the Terps' major social events took place Saturday with the coaches' visit to Stiltsville - a community built on stilts - and the beach party for the players.
Last night, the team's curfew cranked back to 11:30 p.m., the latest the players will be able to stay out until the night of the game.
"The party's over now, and now we've got to get ready to start focusing on the game," Friedgen said.