Friedgen keeps Terps on the run in practice


Coach wants improvement in offensive production

quarterbacks progressing

College Football

August 13, 2005|By Heather A. Dinich | Heather A. Dinich,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK - One of the most grueling and suffocating practices of Maryland's preseason camp went just a wee bit longer yesterday for the Terps' offense, summarizing the entire week.

After more than an hour of drills in their first day in full pads, coach Ralph Friedgen ended practice with a goal-line scrimmage that left his offense breathless from running five extra 100-yard sprints. The offense was stopped cold on its first try against the defense and was penalized for jumping offside on its second.

"Are we where we want to be? We're not even close to where I want to be yet," Friedgen said. "We have to make more plays on offense."

The one thing that was lacking throughout last year's 5-6 season was a potent offense, and while he's seen some flashes of improvement from older players and promise in a few freshmen, Friedgen said he is still looking for his top playmakers.

"For us to have a good season, we have to find some guys who can make plays," he said.

The second-team offense, though, scored two consecutive times on the second-string defense, which also had to run five extra 100-yard sprints.

The highlights were senior running back Mario Merrills' 12-yard run and senior Derrick Fenner's 25-yard reception. Friedgen said he has been particularly impressed with freshman wide receivers Darrius Heyward-Bey and Isaiah Williams. Both are expected to figure into the offense.

Quarterbacks getting work

All three quarterbacks continue to impress Friedgen, but junior Sam Hollenbach still maintains the edge. Thursday was a struggle, though, for each of them. Hollenbach threw an interception, Joel Statham fumbled the ball and Jordan Steffy had a sore arm.

Throwing himself into it

As a former state champion wrestler, 245-pound freshman defensive end Jeremy Navarre is used to grappling with his teammates. That's why it came as no surprise to Friedgen when he had to separate Navarre and 314-pound tackle Brandon Nixon earlier this week. Nixon isn't the only one who has fallen prey to the Joppatowne star.

"He got his hands on [330-pound offensive tackle Jared] Gaither the other day and just threw him around like a little boy," Friedgen said. "That was impressive. That caught my eye."

Navarre, who was The Sun's Athlete of the Year as a junior and named Harford County defensive player of the year as a senior, was recruited as a fullback.

"He's just a football player, that kid, that's the bottom line," defensive line coach Dave Sollazzo said. "You just have to find him a home. I think he's found a home, and he seems to be enjoying it. I think he's going to do very well. He's a tough kid."

In the huddle

Looking to improve upon last year's anemic offense, Friedgen turned to the center of it - the huddle. His idea to change it from a circle, though, was voted down by his staff.

Injury update

The Terps are a little thin at fullback. Matt Deese had an operation yesterday for cartilage in his knee, and Tim Cesa is out with mononucleosis. Friedgen said Cesa could return as early as Tuesday. Nose tackle Rob Armstrong has an enlarged disc in his back, and Friedgen said he is likely to get a cortisone shot.

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