Terps set to look ahead, not back

MARYLAND NOTEBOOK

Dream season behind them as spring game approaches

College Football

April 25, 2002|By Christian Ewell | Christian Ewell,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK -- Maryland's 56-23 loss to Florida in the Orange Bowl may have only been 113 days ago, but it seems like a lot more time has passed heading into Saturday afternoon's spring football scrimmage.

"It's nice, but it's gone," said coach Ralph Friedgen, referring to a 10-2 record and an Atlantic Coast Conference title in 2001.

The only residual effect is that players know the effort required for victory. "I haven't seen it slack off. We're just missing 19 really good football players," Friedgen said.

Nine starters are gone from last season, leaving question marks throughout the lineup. The team's two top players last season -- senior linebacker E.J. Henderson and junior tailback Bruce Perry -- have watched from the sidelines at practice because they're injured.

Here's how things have shaped up this spring:

Quarterback: Chris Kelley and Scott McBrien are the front-runners to replace Shaun Hill, with Orlando Evans slightly behind. Kelley is the current No. 1, but McBrien is the better passer. Friedgen also said yesterday that he wouldn't hesitate to rotate quarterbacks.

Running backs: Perry's absence (with a groin injury) leaves an opportunity for Jason Crawford, Mario Merrills and Chris Downs to emerge. Crawford (36 carries, 146 yards) played most last season, but Merrills (Wilde Lake) has looked best when he runs upfield. At fullback, junior James Lynch looks like he'll retain the starting spot he lost at times last year.

Receivers: The Terps lost leading pass catcher Guilian Gary, but should be deeper with six viable targets. Steve Suter (North Carroll), Scooter Monroe (John Carroll) and former quarterback Latrez Harrison have shone this spring. Tight ends Jeff Dugan and Derek Miller have impressed the coaches.

Offensive line: Friedgen is confident in Kyle Schmitt's ability to replace Melvin Fowler at center. Right tackle Matt Crawford and guards Todd Wike and Lamar Bryant have been solid, but freshman All-American C.J. Brooks finds himself fighting for his left tackle spot with junior Eric Dumas.

Defensive line: "There's not a lot of depth," Friegen said, "not a lot of help coming in, either." But Durrand Roundtree (Lansdowne) started every game at end, and tackles C.J. Feldheim (Hereford) and Randy Starks shared time effectively last season.

Linebackers: Leon Joe is the only starter still in spring practice. E.J. Henderson (Aberdeen) is nursing a back injury. Andrew Henley, the star of last year's spring game (two interceptions), is having another good April, though the staff is waiting to see the freshmen in August.

Secondary: Though the Terps lose three starters, Madieu Williams is all but a lock at free safety, Domonique Foxworth (Western Tech) started the last three games of last season at cornerback and Dennard Wilson will likely play at strong safety.

Special teams: Nick Novak and Brooks Barnard (Broadneck) will continue at kicker and punter, respectively, though Barnard may take over some of the kickoff duties.

Miscellaneous

Walking around campus and taking the carbohydrate-free Atkins diet, Friedgen has lost 15 pounds as part of his goal to raise at least $150,000 for the football program. Two boosters have pledged $500 each for every pound he loses; others have promised $1,000 if he loses 50. ... The Terps introduced new uniforms with a design similar to those of Miami's football team, with a stripe on the shoulder and abbreviated stripes on the pant legs. The uniforms will still be red and white, with black and gold trim.

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