Eight league contests plenty for ACC coaches

Friedgen, others would rather keep fourth nonleague game

October 23, 2008|By Jeff Barker | Jeff Barker,jeff.barker@baltsun.com

Atlantic Coast Conference coaches have discussed the possibility of adding a ninth conference game to the schedule and dropping one of the four nonconference contests.

But Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen said the proposal - raised in spring meetings - is unpopular.

ACC coaches like the flexibility of scheduling winnable nonconference games so they get enough victories to be bowl-eligible.

"Coaches were not for that because it would knock a lot of us out of bowl games," Friedgen said during his weekly conference call with ACC media.

Friedgen also said his seniors are largely responsible for the team's turnaround that led to Saturday's 26-0 win over Wake Forest.

"Our seniors were very important in our change of attitude. They were the ones that called the meeting after the Virginia game," he said. The seniors organized two meetings - one for the entire team and one for the 30 seniors - after the Terps were embarrassed, 31-0, by Virginia on Oct. 4.

Fluke fumbles

Running back Da'Rel Scott said his three fumbles Saturday were uncharacteristic.

"I think it was just a fluke," Scott said. "The team kept me up; that's how I got through the second half."

All the fumbles (one was recovered by the Terps) were in the first half. Coaches made a point of telling Scott they weren't going to stop giving him the ball.

Scott has been playing with a sore shoulder since it was slammed to the turf during the California game Sept. 13. He said the bye week helped him get his legs back after the Virginia game.

"I'm getting really close to 100 percent now," Scott said.

Wolfpack out to steal win

North Carolina State, Maryland's opponent Saturday, has come tantalizingly close to a big victory but remains winless in the ACC.

The Wolfpack lost, 38-31, to Boston College in the final minute, then blew a 17-13 fourth-quarter lead to Florida State and lost to the Seminoles.

Wolfpack coach Tom O'Brien said his goal is to hang around against Maryland on Saturday and then steal one.

"We're going to have to be solid in all phases of the game to have a chance to be in it in the fourth quarter, which is where we want to be," O'Brien said. "If we continue to play smart, we're going to get one of these games at the end."

The Terps will be watching out for freshman T.J. Graham, who returned a kickoff 100 yards against Boston College. After seven games, the wide receiver has already set a Wolfpack season record for kick-return yardage.

Stopgap help

With defensive back Nolan Carroll healthy, it looked as if Maryland's injury-depleted secondary might be approaching full strength.

But then Kevin Barnes went down against Wake Forest with an injured shoulder, and Maryland coaches are back to looking at ways to fill holes.

One stopgap measure is for strong safety Jamari McCullough to fill in at corner. "I've got to get used to being comfortable on the island again instead of having everything in front of me," McCullough said.

Maryland coaches - who act as if Barnes is not coming back anytime soon - are also looking at using some untested players such as redshirt freshman Trenton Hughes and true freshman Cameron Chism on Saturday.

"It's like when one guy comes back, the other guy goes down. We're going to miss Kevin for sure," secondary coach Kevin Lempa said.

Lempa said of Barnes: "He's been calling out plays before they happen. He knows opponents."

Defensive coordinator Chris Cosh said Chism is talented but a little raw. "What he does is he makes the big plays, but he doesn't always make the simple one. He's learning."

N.C. STATE @MARYLAND

Saturday, 3:30 p.m.

Radio: 105.7 FM, 1300 AM

Line: Maryland by 11

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