COLLEGE PARK -- Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen said yesterday that he never has had a team experience so many serious injuries in his 39 years of coaching.
Starting left guard Jaimie Thomas will be out about eight weeks and will have surgery to repair a broken right fibula he suffered against Virginia on Saturday night, Friedgen said. Thomas joins starting right guard Andrew Crummey, who broke his left fibula two weeks ago against Georgia Tech, on the sideline. Thomas' injury is more severe than Crummey's, Friedgen said.
In addition to the Terps' two ailing starting offensive linemen, starting quarterback Jordan Steffy suffered a concussion against Rutgers on Sept. 29 and hasn't played since.
Linebacker Moise Fokou missed practice this past week with a cyst on his forehead, and fullback Cory Jackson broke his hand in the first quarter against Virginia and is questionable for Saturday's game against Clemson at Byrd Stadium.
But Friedgen said his team isn't giving up on the second half of the season.
"We're going to do the best we can," he said. "We're going to keep fighting. That's what I'm going to do, and I think our team will do the same thing. I've never seen a year like this. I've seen guys get nicked up, but I haven't seen the broken bones we're having. We're going to go back to work tonight and get ready for Clemson and play as hard as we can possibly play, and I expect to win."
Maryland (4-3, 1-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) is just two wins shy of its second consecutive bowl appearance, but injuries to the offensive line have left the team so thin there it could be a major factor the rest of the season.
"We can't afford to lose another key guy like" Thomas, running back Keon Lattimore said. "That has a huge impact on us."
The injury to Thomas was particularly devastating against Virginia because of Cavaliers defensive end Chris Long, who finished with 10 tackles and two sacks. But Friedgen said his team lost its homecoming game to Virginia, 18-17, in part because of erroneous officiating. Friedgen called Doug Rhoads, the ACC's coordinator of football officials, yesterday to voice his grievances.
Friedgen said his biggest problem with Virginia's game-winning touchdown was the time it took to signal the score. Friedgen said 10 seconds ticked off the clock while the touchdown was debated.
"I wasn't aware of it at the time, myself," he said. "When I saw the replay, I found out about it. Doug Rhoads was aware of it when I called him. Those things shouldn't happen. Whether that made a difference or not, I don't know."
Friedgen also was unhappy with the officials' placement of the ball after a fourth-and-four play with 42 seconds remaining. The spot gave the Cavaliers a critical first down - a call Friedgen said Rhoads agreed with.
"I still think they're tough calls to make," Friedgen said. "I agree with all of them with the exception of the time running off the clock and the spot. Of course, they don't make it by an inch, we win the game. It's a pretty important call.
"It was a tough game. Our kids played hard. We've got to get over it and move on. It's just disappointing when you work so hard and play so hard, to lose a game on a decision because it went the other way."
Maryland quarterback Chris Turner said it was a game the team needs to forget - eventually.
"It's gonna hurt for a couple days," Turner said. "It always does. Come Monday, we just have to regroup. There's two ways we can go. We can have a good season or we can have a bad season. That's just the reality."
After missing the Georgia Tech game with a knee injury, linebacker Erin Henderson returned to the lineup and made a career-high 18 tackles. He did it with a broken thumb and chipped a tooth.
On Maryland's final possession of the third quarter, quarterback Chris Turner was sacked in the end zone for a loss of 8 yards and a safety. The play cut Maryland's lead to five points, and coach Ralph Friedgen said he blew the call.
The Terps (4-3, 1-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) will host Clemson (5-2, 2-2) at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Byrd Stadium.
HEATHER A. DINICH