Hugging ground was No. 1 on charts

With ill wind blowing, everything in the air became an adventure

Maryland notebook

College Football

November 14, 2003|By Christian Ewell | Christian Ewell,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK - At the end of the third quarter, trying to hold on to a 24-14 lead, Maryland deliberately took a delay-of-game penalty on third-and-7. Why? The wind conditions in central Maryland, which seemed to hold last night's contest hostage.

Played a month later, there might be worse conditions in these parts. But with 41-degree temperatures nultiplied by 24-mph winds, special teams play and the passing games took a hit.

Maryland's Adam Podlesh, named one of the Ray Guy Award semifinalists earlier this week, was humbled anytime the Terps had to punt away from Gossett Team House at the east end of Byrd Stadium.

For Nick Novak, it meant figuring out how to deal with swirling winds when kicking toward the west, and how to keep his kicks up when going toward the building. The calculations began on his first kickoff and continued through his 45-yard field goal that gave the Terps their 27-17 victory.

"I was either going to have to drive it, or squib-kick it," Novak said of his options on kickoffs. "It was definitely the strongest wind that I've played in since I've played here."

It wasn't much better for Maryland's passing game. While Josh Allen finished with 257 yards (third-best rushing day by a Terps back), a fair guess is that necessity - as well as confidence - was the reason that nine of the team's first 11 plays were ground plays.

"Looking at the forecast, you always check it out and we were excited," said center Kyle Schmitt. "We love playing that kind of football. We hope it's in the 20s next week."

Both teams, though, threw well. Virginia gained 186 yards through the air on 26 attempts, and Maryland ended up with 191 yards on 21 attempts.

But with the exception of Scott McBrien's 41-yard pass to Jafar Williams, setting up Allen's second-quarter touchdown, attempts down field were rare.

The return games didn't benefit, either. While Steve Suter is one of the most dangerous return men in the Atlantic Coast Conference, he either got short kicks that gave him little space to move, or kicks that were unreturnable.

For the game, the teams totaled 43 return yards.

Looks from bowls

Representatives of three bowls were in attendance last night, looking at both Maryland and Virginia.

The Gator, Peach and Tangerine - games that get second, third and fourth choice among ACC teams - were impressed by the crowd at Byrd Stadium, 51,027.

Bob Smith, chairman elect of the Gator Bowl committee, said he liked what he saw. He'll now attend Pittsburgh's game against West Virginia tomorrow.

"We definitely think favorably when we think of Maryland," said Smith, in his 14th year on the committee. "Maryland is one of several options for us, and we're weighing the pros and cons. There are two games that we're going to this week, and this is one of them."

Television picture

The ACC is expected to begin negotiations soon on its television arrangement with ESPN. The league's television contracts with ABC, the cable network and Jefferson-Pilot - which syndicates regional games - run through 2005 and are worth $25 million, but the pact with ESPN includes clauses for renegotiations triggered by changes in the league.

Big East members Miami, Virginia Tech and Boston College are set to join the ACC next year.

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