Friedgen hopes silent treatment works again for Terps' McBrien

Going into Gator Bowl, QB won't have to discuss facing W.Va. a final time

December 09, 2003|By Kevin Van Valkenburg | Kevin Van Valkenburg,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK - The less Scott McBrien has to say, the more Ralph Friedgen likes his chances against West Virginia in the Gator Bowl next month.

And so, with Maryland's football team resuming practices this week in preparation for the Terps' Jan. 1 game with the Mountaineers, Friedgen gave the media one last chance to speak to McBrien. Starting today, the Terps' quarterback is off limits.

"I'd rather put the onus on me than put Scott in a tough situation," Friedgen said. "I'm not worried about whether Scott can handle it, I just don't want Scotty to be bombarded with questions when he's getting ready to play a game."

The questions, of course, are fairly obvious, but provide context for the Gator Bowl's juiciest story line. McBrien, who signed with West Virginia out of high school and played two seasons for the Mountaineers, will finish his college career against a program (and a coach) that had little use for him during his time in Morgantown.

Since transferring to Maryland in 2001, McBrien has defeated West Virginia twice, and guided the Terps to 20 wins in two seasons. Though he's done everything in his power to avoid story lines of either redemption or revenge each time the Terps have faced the Mountaineers, McBrien is willing to acknowledge the unusual twist of fate that will force him - in his final game - to compete against players he once shared a locker room with.

"It's a good way to end it," McBrien said. "I've got a lot of good friends on that team, and to be on the field with them once again will be something special."

McBrien certainly didn't mind Friedgen stepping in and preventing him from having to answer the same questions countless times over the next three weeks.

"The past two times he's done it, and it's worked," said McBrien, who was off limits leading up to Maryland's 48-17 win over West Virginia in 2002, and before the Terps' 34-7 win this year. "I think we'd better stick to what we've been doing and hopefully we can end on a good note."

Though the spotlight burned brightly on McBrien most of the afternoon, there were plenty of other things to discus yesterday at Maryland, most notably the status of senior defensive lineman Scott Smith. Smith, who has played in only three games this year because of a herniated disc in his lower back, says he will definitely play in the Gator Bowl, having fully recovered from back surgery in September that looked like it would end his career.

"It was a pretty painful procedure," Smith said. "They take like half your disc out and shave your spine to give more room for your disc to move around. But I recovered really well. ... I feel pretty comfortable now."

Smith, who lost about 30 pounds during his recovery, says he's not coming back for a token appearance. He's regained about 20 of the pounds he lost, and expects to be at full strength in the next few weeks.

"My whole thinking from the start is that I'm going to come back at the same pace I was playing before I got hurt," Smith said.

Maryland wide receiver Steve Suter, however, continues to deal with pain and swelling in his left knee, and says now he'll likely avoid having surgery before the bowl game to repair a torn meniscus ligament.

"I was going to try and have it [after the N.C. State game], but I ended up going to the All-ACC banquet in Atlanta that Monday," Suter said. "That was kind of my window, and I don't think I'd be ready to play if I did it now. I'll sit down with the doctors after the season and decide if we want to do it then."

NOTES: After promising to sell 12,750 tickets to the Gator Bowl, Maryland has sold 11,000, the school announced yesterday, and has requested 4,250 more. Though the game is expected to be a sellout, tickets still can be purchased by contacting the Maryland ticket office at 800-462-8377. ... Friedgen said it's possible, though unlikely, that wide receiver Derrick Fenner could play in the Gator Bowl. Fenner had an appendectomy before the Virginia game. ... Defensive end Kevin Eli (bruised ribs) and running back Josh Allen (sprained ankle) should be healthy enough to play, Friedgen said.

Gator Bowl

Matchup: Maryland (9-3) vs. West Virginia (8-4)

Site: Alltel Stadium, Jacksonville, Fla.

When: Jan. 1, 12:30 p.m.

TV/Radio: Chs. 11, 4/WBAL (1090 AM)

On SunSpot: Read a Q&A with Maryland football players C.J. Feldheim, Domonique Foxworth and Steve Suter at

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