More on line for Terps than win for seniors

November 19, 2005|By HEATHER A. DINICH | HEATHER A. DINICH,SUN REPORTER

COLLEGE PARK -- For Maryland senior linebacker D'Qwell Jackson, his final game today at Byrd Stadium will in many ways be no different from any other he's ever played - with no regrets.

"I've been doing that since Day One, since I was 7 years old," said Jackson, the top tackler in the Atlantic Coast Conference. "That's what I was taught, to leave everything out on the field each and every week and also during practice, to finish out on a good note."

The weight of a win today for Maryland is far greater, though, than merely a feel-good sendoff for the senior class. Beating No. 23 Boston College (7-3, 4-3 ACC) would make the Terps (5-4, 3-3) bowl-eligible, and could possibly move them into second place in the Atlantic Division. A win would also make last year's 5-6 season appear to be an anomaly under coach Ralph Friedgen, who won a conference championship in 2001 and has been to bowl games three of the past four seasons.

"This sets up a lot of things for us," Friedgen said. "If we can get this game, it gives us some momentum. It makes a statement nationally that this team is improving. But we're going to have to play really good."

Maryland enters today's noon kickoff with momentum from last weekend's 33-30 overtime win against North Carolina. The Terps finished the week of practice with intensity, swarming Friedgen for pep talks both at the beginning and end of Thursday's practice, and going at each other hard in between - corner Josh Wilson even got into a tussle with tight end Vernon Davis.

"This is No. 6, we need No. 6 to qualify for a bowl and we are right back where we've been in past years," Wilson said. "This would be big for the program because people are starting to jump off the bandwagon. We need to tell them it's not over yet, and we're not going down easy."

Sophomore offensive lineman Andrew Crummey said the team has been talking about respect all year long and trying desperately to get it back.

"Everyone feels like last year we lost a lot of what this team had accomplished the previous three years," he said. "Beating Boston College would be a big step toward getting that respect back, and re-establish ourselves as a good - great - program in the ACC. That's what we're striving to achieve right now."

Senior safety Milton Harris, who was named the ACC's defensive back of the week for his career-high 16 tackles and a fourth-quarter forced fumble last Saturday, said Maryland needs to beat teams the caliber of Boston College if it is going to take the program to the next level.

"To be a good team, you have to beat the good teams," Harris said. "We have had some trouble at home. I think we owe it to our fans that when they come out to Byrd Stadium, especially this being the last time this season, we owe them a victory. We owe them a better showing than we've been having at home so far."

The Terps have won only one game at Byrd Stadium this year - a venue Friedgen said used to be a "home-field advantage." Maryland has been outscored 86-52 in its three home losses this year. The lone win was a 45-33 upset of Virginia on homecoming.

"We haven't really played the way we're capable of playing at home," Friedgen said. "I'm hoping we play our best game of the year at home."

They're going to have to. While the two teams match up fairly evenly on offense, Boston College has the No. 1 rushing defense in the ACC. And the Terps will have their hands full trying to protect quarterback Sam Hollenbach.

North Carolina knocked him back three times last Saturday, making pass protection a focus this week at practice. Boston College is second in the ACC with 28 sacks for a loss of 152 yards. The Eagles had eight sacks last weekend against North Carolina State, 3.5 of them from senior defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka.

"Kiwanuka dominated the game," Friedgen said. "I hope he got it out of his system."

heather.dinich@baltsun.com

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