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Groggy McBrien forces options

October 30, 2003|by BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - For the University of Maryland football team to be playing without quarterback Scott McBrien at this point of the season would be like getting hit in the head.

The Terps - and namely McBrien - have been experiencing both.

McBrien continues to take the quick recovery route after suffering a concussion in the first half of last Thursday's loss to Georgia Tech. The hope is that the senior will be ready for Saturday's game with North Carolina.

"It's kind of a day-to-day thing, but we fully expect (McBrien) to play on Saturday," Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen said. "It's decreasing all the time."

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McBrien suffered his concussion in the second quarter in the 7-3 loss to Georgia Tech and missed more than a series because of injury for the first time in his 22 games at Maryland.

"He ran on Friday, but he suffered a headache later on," Friedgen said. "He didn't practice (Monday) but ran again and got a headache again, but it wasn't as bad. We hope to get him back to practice again."

McBrien's injury comes at the most inopportune time for the Terps (5-3, 2-2) as they struggle to stay in contention for a top bowl bid. Maryland has a prime chance to make a move when it faces North Carolina, a young team which has a 1-7 record and is winless in the ACC.

"Anytime you go out on the field against an opponent, you want your best guy out there," said senior safety Andrew Smith. "(Scott) has the most experience. But whoever is out there, we will go out to support the young quarterback."

Joel Statham went from freshman clipboard holder to first-string in the course of a week. It wasn't the best of times for Statham to audition for a job, but then again, it wasn't like he had a choice either.

Statham, a freshman, was elevated to second string after Orlando Evans missed the game for disciplinary reasons and then took the field with the game in his hand after McBrien was injured. The performance wasn't a picture of perfection, but it kept the Terps in a position to still win the game.

"He showed me a lot of poise, which I hadn't really seen," Friedgen said. "He got hit a couple of times and he kept coming back for more. He's got to learn to read coverages a little better, but everything (else) we ask our quarterbacks to do, he did pretty well."

Statham hit on 10 of 22 passes for 110 yards, but threw an interception and fumbled during a sack at the Maryland 18 to set up Tech's only, and winning, score.

"He has to learn to tuck the ball and take a sack sometimes instead of fumbling," Friedgen said.

McBrien will start if he can shake the concussion and Evans will be reinstated on the roster, but will be the third-stringer behind Statham. And since both McBrien and Evans are seniors, it might be an indication that Statham has become the quarterback-in-waiting for the Terps' 2004 season.

"I was encouraged by his performance. I really was," Friedgen said. "For me, I was just hoping it was the beginning of something good."

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