Terps ready to catch breath

Va. Tech looms in 10 days, but first there's rest and reevaluation


An 11-day span with no football games began yesterday for Maryland, and after the Terps' 38-7 win over Temple on Saturday, there seemed to be one thing at the top of the players' to-do list this week: "Sleep," cornerback Josh Wilson said without any hesitation.

"Sleep," said running back Mario Merrills. "After class, it's so nice to go back to my room and take a nap."

Coach Ralph Friedgen, who has already begun dissecting film from the first six games, has a few other items on his bye-week agenda. Maryland won't begin preparing for the Oct. 20 game against Virginia Tech until Saturday, but there is plenty to do before the Terps begin the toughest stretch of their schedule.

The assistant coaches will spend tomorrow and Wednesday recruiting, the coordinators will stay behind to watch game film of the Hokies, and the players begin their "break" today with a team picture and weightlifting.

Practice resumes Thursday, and Friedgen said he hopes it's quick and to the point. This year, he gave them an extra day off.

"We're going to let our players catch their breath, and probably our coaches, too," Friedgen said. "We'll go back and reevaluate some things that have hurt us and take Thursday and Friday and improve on some of the things we haven't been doing well."

Friedgen said yesterday that he'd like to polish the running game, which was a key in Maryland's win against the Owls. Despite five rushing touchdowns - including three by Merrills - Friedgen said after the game that there were too many missed assignments.

"It's nothing major," said Merrills, who finished with 66 yards on 12 carries after not playing in the previous game against Virginia. "It's something that can be corrected. We have more than a week to prepare for Virginia Tech, so we'll be ready."

Maryland quarterback Sam Hollenbach said he began thinking about the Hokies as soon as the game against Temple ended.

"We need to be ready to play, not just for this game, but we have five games left we need to be up for," he said. "We can't be making mistakes."

Defensively, Friedgen said teams are recognizing and exposing their weaknesses on certain plays, and that in the fourth quarter Saturday, the Owls were using some of the plays that Clemson hurt the Terps with.

Any major changes on either side of the ball seem unlikely, but Friedgen did say freshman linebacker Dave Philistin could become more of a factor as a substitute for David Holloway.

Maryland won't play another Saturday game until Oct. 29 at Florida State.

The Terps' win against Temple improved their record to 4-2 overall and 2-1 in the Atlantic Coast Conference, and they need two more wins to be bowl eligible. Friedgen said his team can use the rest this week, but doesn't want the players to lose the momentum from three consecutive wins.

"My only concern about it is I think we're practicing very well right now and we're playing pretty well," he said. "I really don't want to lose that sharpness. The more I'm a head coach, the more I think sometimes it's better to back off than to pile on, which is kind of against my nature.

"As a head coach," he said, "you have to know your team and judge where they're at and keep them at a high level."

Notes -- Friedgen said he hopes kicker Obi Egekeze, who injured his hamstring this summer and hasn't played since, is strong enough to resume competition with starter Dan Ennis. Ennis had made his first 11 field goals before missing one Saturday. ... Linebacker D'Qwell Jackson, who missed Saturday's game with an undisclosed leg injury, will be cleared to play by Friday, along with Dre Moore, who sprained his ankle before the game.heather.dinich@baltsun.com

No. 3 Virginia Tech@Maryland Oct. 20, 7:45 p.m., ESPN, 1300 AM, 105.7 FM

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