Pinning Terps about FSU is trivial pursuit

September 11, 2002|by BOB PARASILITI

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Everything is a game for the University of Maryland football team this week.

That's because the Terrapins are trying to prepare for THE GAME.

Although playing football against Florida State on Saturday at 7:45 p.m. before a national ESPN audience was on their minds, Tuesday was time to play a cross of Jeopardy and Clue for coach Ralph Friedgen and the Terps.

"Why should we show up?" Friedgen asked rhetorically with a laugh to one of the members of the press during his weekly media luncheon. "Anytime you kick it off, it's time to play."

Most every answer given Tuesday came back in the form of a question or had cryptic meaning when it came to Florida State. Friedgen didn't want to tip his strategic hand to the Seminoles nor did he want to add any bulletin board fodder which might motivate the Seminoles when they come to Byrd Stadium.


The circumstances are daunting enough. Maryland ended Florida State's run of nine straight seasons of either winning or sharing the Atlantic Coast Conference title. The Seminoles enter the game as one of the top five teams in the nation ... the Terps aren't even in the Top 25. FSU is upset and wants revenge ... Maryland wants stability.

"I'm not in it for one-game season," Friedgen said. "We're going to play 13 games - hopefully 14 games - this year. Someday, maybe we'll grow up to be like Florida State."

Florida State has been the blueprint football program in the ACC since joining the league 11 years ago. It has offered the complete package of offense, defense and special teams enhanced with a premium of talent, all products of the Seminoles' powerhouse traditions.

"There lies the problem," Friedgen said. "Gang up on their running game and you leave the secondary to go one-on-one or help out on their receivers and let the running game go. What would you do? They have great balance and anytime you have balance you have a great team. Someday, maybe we will have that balance, too. This is a case of if we are the same team we were last year. That remains the question."

Friedgen evaded definitive answers on the perceived importance of the game to his program and the Terps' defense of the ACC title along while also steering clear of the exact status of tailback Bruce Perry, the returning ACC offensive player of the year who has been out with a torn groin.

"I want to be very careful with Bruce," he said. "He wants to play, but it's a long season. I'm listening to his rehab doctors and to Bruce. If he plays and tears that again, he'd be out for the season."

Meanwhile, Maryland players also detoured to the high road when it came to thumping their chests over knocking Florida State off the top of the ACC mountain.

"They're the big dogs," Maryland linebacker E.J. Henderson said. "I don't think we take it away from them after winning (the ACC) for just one season. They are still on top and the big dogs. We won the title last year, but they still beat us."

Still, Maryland is hosting the Seminoles with a chance to avenge 52-31 loss, representing the only regular season blemish on the record. After all, the Terps are still the defending champs.

"I'm expecting the best from Florida State," Friedgen said. "Florida State takes everyone's best shot ... you can't sneak up on them. We'd better be ready, but we'll be in trouble if we're not. But that's a change ... when was the last time they had to play their best against Maryland?"

The Herald-Mail Articles