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Friedgen's big headache becomes one for Tar Heels

November 03, 2003|by BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - No sacrifice is too extreme or too painful to Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen when it comes to winning football games.

Not even a splitting headache.

The Terrapins' head coach took the head part to heart when it came to getting his team ready to play North Carolina on Saturday.

"I don't know if I saw it right," Maryland quarterback Scott McBrien said. "I think he head-butted (long snapper) John Condo. I really don't know if I saw that right, but it goes to show that he really gets behind us."

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The smack across the forehead was just a foreshadowing of Friedgen's commitment to help Maryland shake the aftereffects of a 7-3 loss to Georgia Tech 10 days ago. It seemed to work as the Terps rolled to a 59-21 win over North Carolina before a homecoming crowd at Byrd Stadium.

"This game worried me very, very much," Friedgen said, now without the need of an icepack. "I saw a Carolina team that plays hard ... they played hard today. I thought our team was in a fragile state. If we would have lost this one, I don't know if we would have won another one the rest of the year. Now I think we have our confidence back."

Friedgen fretted most of the week over the game.

He had McBrien, who had one of his worst outings against Georgia Tech, trying to shake the aftereffects of a concussion which put him out of the last game by halftime.

He had a defense which played one of its best games against Tech, allowing just one touchdown after a turnover and losing by four points.

And most of all, he had to deal with the Terps' fading confidence because the loss to the Yellow Jackets changed the complexion of Maryland's bowl picture.

But it wasn't like Friedgen needed to butt heads with the Terps to convince them.

Or was it?

"Coach Friedgen butted someone in the back of the helmet," defensive back Domonique Foxworth said. "He almost killed himself, but it got us up. He is the heart of this team and the heart of this program. If he is going to come down and do that, you can tell how serious he was about this game."

Friedgen made the rounds this week. He had a meeting with his seniors looking for more leadership while trying to help them realize there is still a lot at stake in the season. He substituted as the offensive line coach on Friday, trying to relax them and get them to loosen up for the game.

"I told them this was coming from an old offensive lineman," Friedgen said. "I told them a couple of jokes. I told them that 'when you are on the offensive line, when you are going good, no one thinks you did anything. When it goes bad, it's your fault. It comes with the territory.' I told them I wanted them to go out and dominate people."

It worked.

After allowing North Carolina to take a 21-14 lead, largely on big plays, Maryland scored the last 45 points in the final 39 minutes, 19 seconds of the game.

McBrien bounced back with his best throwing day of his career, hitting 15 of 25 passes for 349 yards and four touchdowns. He also ran for two others. Maryland's offense scored on every possession in the first half.

The defense shut down North Carolina after the Tar Heels made a game of it early.

"The pivotal part of the game was them scoring," Foxworth said. "I and the defense did our part, but (the offense) did more."

And maybe the best thing of all is Friedgen didn't need any stitches to close the marks he received for his new twist on inspirational speeches.

"I told them that I was with them the whole game," Friedgen said. "I was more demonstrative today ... that's why I don't have much of a voice left. I felt like I was ready to play today. If that's what I have to do to get this team ready, I'll become the biggest cheerleader around."

The Terps probably couldn't handle the cartwheels though.

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