Harrison finds consistency as receiver

Former QB had 88 yards, 1 TD in win against Duke

Maryland notebook

College Football

October 17, 2003|By Christian Ewell | Christian Ewell,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK - Latrez Harrison was almost taken aback by the idea that his performance in Saturday's Duke game represented a step forward.

After all, the Maryland receiver's numbers in the West Virginia game Sept. 20 were identical to those he put up in the 33-20 win over the Blue Devils. Four catches yielded 88 yards and one touchdown in both games.

"I don't really consider it a breakout game because the whole year I've been consistent with my play," said Harrison, who will get to play in front of his hometown crowd when the Terps go to Atlanta to face Georgia Tech on Thursday. "I'm getting three or four catches every game. I wouldn't consider it a breakout game unless I had 10 catches or something like that."

Harrison is still getting the hang of catching the ball in his second season as a receiver, which followed three years as a quarterback. The fifth-year senior knows how to find open spaces, but his occasional lack of sure-handedness has hampered his efforts to capitalize on that knowledge.

To solve that problem, receivers coach James Franklin throws footballs out of a machine to Harrison so that he can practice the mechanics of catching the ball.

"He had me on the Jugs for three or four weeks," Harrison said. "Twenty or thirty balls on the Jugs machine. He gave me a couple of drills to do. So that's helped me on the deep balls and everything."

Depth in secondary

The curse of playing behind a secondary containing Curome Cox, Domonique Foxworth, Madieu Williams and Dennard Wilson is that even as you're improving, your role won't expand much.

Such is the case with reserve defensive back Andrew Smith, whose first interception of the game ended Duke's first possession of the game.

"Last year, I was more content," Smith said. "It's only natural as one gets better to want more responsibility and more of a role in things. It's the same thing for Jamal Chance. He's a pretty good football player, but he's has some pretty good football players ahead of him."

Friedgen endorsement

Earlier this week, coach Ralph Friedgen was asked his thoughts about Northern Illinois' worthiness for a prime spot in the BCS' first rankings next week. Despite playing in the low-profile Mid-American Conference, the Huskies are 6-0 this season.

That record includes three wins over three teams from major conferences - Iowa State, Alabama and Maryland, which started the season in the top 15. An opening win over Maryland on Aug. 28 put the DeKalb, Ill., school on the map.

"I have the utmost respect for them, and I had respect for them coming in," Friedgen said of Northern Illinois, which entered the season as the favorite to win the MAC. "That's the reason why the championship needs to be played on the field."

Et cetera

Defensive line coach Dave Sollazzo and his wife, Ellen, had a son yesterday morning. Sollazzo's raspy voice has been a comforting staple at practices for the past three seasons, and yesterday was no different. "We thought, `Will Coach Sollazzo be at practice today?' " offensive guard Lamar Bryant said. "`Nah, he just had a baby. He's going to be home with his son.' Sure enough, he was out here at film and everything. I'm sure he went back home [after practice] to be at home with his wife and son."

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