Friedgen searching for answers, offense

Terps coach `disappointed with everything' about unit in loss to Ga. Tech

College Football

October 25, 2003|By Kevin Van Valkenburg | Kevin Van Valkenburg,SUN STAFF

ATLANTA - Want an indication of how much Maryland's offense is struggling right now? Ralph Friedgen said yesterday that he's never experienced a season like this in his coaching career.

Sure, there have been struggles at various stops, but the Terps' current offensive mediocrity seems to have surpassed them all.

"I'm really disappointed with the way we handled things, because it wasn't anything we haven't seen before," Friedgen said after Maryland's 7-3 loss to Georgia Tech on Thursday night. "I'm disappointed with our blocking, and really I'm disappointed with everything about our offense. I'm not pleased at all. I'm not sure what we can do. I thought we had a good week of practice. We practiced as well as [as we have] at any time since I've been here and then we come out and play like this."

It's all the more frustrating, Friedgen said, because he's not sure what he can do to fix things.

"I'm open to suggestions," he said. "I'm sure there'll be plenty of them out there."

Maryland rushed for just 96 yards, lost two fumbles and threw two interceptions. Georgia Tech stopped the Terps by blitzing different people in different gaps nearly every play.

"It was mainly miscommunication out there, not knowing who to block," said guard Lamar Bryant. "They weren't running a very complicated defense. They just blitzed over 50 percent of the time."

Friedgen said the team doctors will re-evaluate senior quarterback Scott McBrien on Monday. If McBrien doesn't have any headaches, Friedgen expects him to play next week against North Carolina. McBrien sustained a concussion in the second quarter and didn't play the second half.

"He didn't even remember two series that he played," Friedgen said.

Friedgen said that senior quarterback Orlando Evans will be back this week after being suspended for a game for violating team rules, but he's not sure where Evans will fit in. Second-year freshman Joel Statham most likely will get more playing time as the season goes on.

"I think we need to start looking toward the future [at quarterback]," Friedgen said.

Friedgen did not elaborate on Evans' suspension. He did say it was unrelated to the trip Evans took home two weeks ago when he missed the Duke game for personal reasons.

Defensively, there wasn't much to complain about, other than one Georgia Tech drive in the fourth quarter where Maryland had the Yellow Jackets pinned near their goal line. Georgia Tech converted a third-and-eight from the 6-yard line, then took seven minutes off the clock before finally kicking the ball back to the Terps with 4:58 to play.

"That was a big part of the game," Friedgen said. "We just couldn't get it done. Give them credit for making some big plays. ... I really felt like they were more intense than us."

Even before McBrien was knocked out of the game, Maryland's defense had concluded that the game was in its hands.

"The whole first half, we felt like we had to pitch a shutout to win," said Terps defensive end Kevin Eli. "I think we did a good job, but we still gave up points, so it wasn't good enough."

On Georgia Tech's only touchdown, Terps linebacker D'Qwell Jackson came flying in on a blitz and put a wicked hit on quarterback Reggie Ball. But just before Jackson nailed him, Ball fired a perfect dart into the back of the end zone, hitting Jonathan Smith for the decisive touchdown.

"With the way our defense was playing, we almost won that game 3-0," Friedgen said.

Maryland's players have the next two days off, and Friedgen said he hopes they do a little soul searching.

"We could end up 9-3 or we could finish 5-7," Friedgen said. "We need to figure out what want to accomplish from here."

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