Friedgen cautious of Wofford

September 25, 2002|by BOB PARASILITI

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Ralph Friedgen walks in a different world compared to the average guy.

He's a football coach - more exactly, the University of Maryland's head football coach - so any eccentrics are ignored.

But oddly, there actually is something that can distract Friedgen away from realizing that his best offensive weapon is about to return to the playing field on Saturday.

That thing, believe it or not, is Wofford College.

The announcement that tailback Bruce Perry, a first-team All-American and last season's Atlantic Coast Conference Offensive Player of the Year, took a backseat to Friedgen's concerns of playing Wofford.

"This is a dangerous team," Friedgen said Tuesday to an almost disbelieving gathering at his weekly media luncheon. "They are 3-0 and they run the option - something that we haven't seen a lot of - and they play some strong defense. Field position, possession (of the ball) and their defense concerns me."


That, in itself, is kind of hard to believe. Friedgen is concerned about Wofford, an NCAA Division I-AA team. Sure, the Terriers are undefeated and have only allowed 13 points through their first three games and are coming off the biggest win in the history of their program - a 14-7 win at No. 8 Georgia Southern, giving the I-AA powerhouse for its first loss in 29 games.

Still, Maryland is such a prohibitive favorite, the game isn't listed on Las Vegas betting lines.

But, Wofford is providing the diversion that helps downplay Perry's return to the Maryland lineup. The fourth-year junior has recovered from a groin muscle tear, which came on the heels of an abdominal strain that has kept him out of action since the Orange Bowl in January.

"Bruce had the best practice that he has had on Monday, and barring any injuries, will play," Friedgen said. "He looked the best he has in a long time."

Perry's return will add one of Maryland's more dynamic weapons back to the Terps' arsenal. He burst on the scene last season with 1,242 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns while catching 40 passes for another 359 yards and two scores. Perry accounted for 33 percent of Maryland's offensive yardage and 26 percent of the Terps' touchdowns.

"Bruce will play, but I don't know how much," Friedgen said. "In practice, he's taking one out of every four reps and last night, I saw that burst in his running again. If he is 100 percent, he will start.

"I'm anxious to get Bruce in the game ... so is Bruce. He hasn't played since the Orange Bowl. He hasn't been in a game, a practice or scrimmaged since then. He's got to get his feet wet."

A game against a lesser known opponent like Wofford would be the perfect chance for Perry, especially with a showdown with border rival West Virginia and the ACC schedule just ahead.

But Friedgen won't let it seem that easy.

"This is a dangerous opponent," Friedgen said in warning. "They are well coached and play very hard. They'll be ready to play. You'll all laugh at me now, but you'll see when they come out Saturday night. This is their bowl game."

The Herald-Mail Articles