Friedgen promises improvement

After 6-7 season, Maryland coach says: `We're going to get back to where we need to be'

December 30, 2007|By Don Markus | Don Markus,Sun reporter

SAN FRANCISCO -- It didn't take long for Maryland football coach Ralph Friedgen to issue his first mandate for next season.

"We're going to raise our game to a whole 'nother level. They'd better bring their `A' game because I'm going to bring mine," Friedgen said after the Terps closed their season with a 21-14 loss to Oregon State in Friday night's Emerald Bowl at AT&T Park. "We're going to get back to where we need to be."

What the Terps were for most of the 2007 season, including the last three quarters against the Beavers, was a very inconsistent football team, especially on offense. The team's up-and-down, 6-7 season included wins over two then-Top 10 teams, Rutgers and Boston College, as well as a loss to North Carolina, which finished 4-8.

Maryland continued that pattern against Oregon State (9-4). After scoring on two of the first three possessions, coming on touchdown passes from sophomore quarterback Chris Turner to Isaiah Williams (9 yards) and Darrius Heyward-Bey (63 yards), Maryland went scoreless the rest of the game.

Some of it had to do with an Oregon State defense that shut down senior running backs Keon Lattimore (seven carries, 16 yards) and Lance Ball (10 carries, 5 yards). Some of it had to do with Turner throwing two interceptions, neither of which was entirely his fault.

And some of it had to do with the Terps not sticking with what had been working early on.

"When you're doing one thing and it's working, you should stick with it," Williams said.

As happened often throughout the season, the lack of offense eventually helped wear down the defense. After holding Oregon State running back Yvenson Bernard in check early, and forcing the Beavers into a couple of early fumbles, the Terps couldn't slow down Bernard and freshman wide receiver James Rodgers.

Bernard finished with an Emerald Bowl-record 177 yards on 38 carries, and the 5-foot-7 Rodgers wound up with a career-high 115 yards on 10 carries while also catching five passes for 40 yards. Rodgers had two touchdowns - including recovering a fumble by Bernard in the end zone - and Bernard had one.

"They were a lot faster than we anticipated," Maryland senior defensive tackle Carlos Feliciano said, echoing the sentiments of most of his teammates.

As the Terps take time off before getting ready for winter workouts, Friedgen and his players will contemplate how to improve their consistency next season.

Turner's play was an unexpected surprise, and he will certainly go into the spring as the No. 1 quarterback on the depth chart. His performance against the Beavers (17-for-29, 205 yards) showed again that he could play against big-time competition. But what are the Terps going to do if Josh Portis' eligibility is reinstated?

The arrival of James Franklin as offensive coordinator will be the biggest change for Maryland, and for Friedgen, who has been calling plays the past couple of seasons. With junior linebacker Erin Henderson expected to turn pro, the Terps will return five starters on defense. Nine starters will return on offense.

Williams, who will be a senior next season, is looking forward to the change.

"I think honestly we're going to have to go in a whole new direction," Williams said.

don.markus@baltsun.com

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