Year at W&M gives Friedgen cause to pause

Maryland notebook

Offensive coordinator faced challenges with shortage of quarterbacks, linemen

College Football

August 30, 2006|By Heather A. Dinich | Heather A. Dinich,Sun Reporter

COLLEGE PARK -- Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen emphasized that he is not taking William and Mary lightly in the season opener Saturday, but he couldn't help but chuckle at the thought of his one-year stint there as offensive coordinator in 1980.

Friedgen's task of turning around back-to-back 5-6 seasons somewhat paled in comparison to the challenges he faced at the Division I-AA school in Williamsburg, Va.

"We had one quarterback at spring practice," Friedgen said. "The spring game, he played quarterback for both teams. We had six offensive linemen, and when one of them got tired, we took a break. I'm not kidding. We had to go out and start preparing for a 3 o'clock practice at noon because we had to line the field."

It didn't end there.

"We practiced next to a mental institution," he said, then paused. "There was this guy who used to come to my drills with a hat on. He used to say, `Stay low! Stay low!' I said, `Listen to the guy, he's telling you the right stuff.'

"He was probably some old coach," Friedgen added. "That's how I'll be someday."

Team leaders

For years, Friedgen has relied on a group of players known as the Leadership Council. Players are voted to the position in the spring by their teammates, and this year, eight names are listed on a sign in the Gossett Team House.

This year's players are running back Josh Allen, offensive lineman Stephon Heyer, quarterback Sam Hollenbach, free safety Christian Varner, cornerback Josh Wilson and linebackers Wesley Jefferson, Trey Covington and Erin Henderson.

"It's a tough role because guys come up to you and they need a voice to Ralph," Heyer said. "A lot of guys have a hard time going up and talking to him. It's our voice to get to Ralph and for him to understand us."

Heyer, a senior, said he has developed an open relationship with Friedgen.

"I'm the old guy now," Heyer said. "I know when's a good time to talk to him, when's not, his mood swings and stuff like that."

Et cetera

Friedgen said Chris Turner is the No. 3 quarterback, moving ahead of Bobby Sheahin. Sheahin had told Friedgen he injured his arm during preseason camp. "That was probably the thing that worked against him the most," Friedgen said. ... Backup quarterback Jordan Steffy was at practice yesterday and seemed unaffected by his recently sprained right middle finger. ... Senior cornerback Wilson returned to practice after dealing with a foot injury.

heather.dinich@baltsun.com

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