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Friendship goes on hold for Wiley

December 31, 2003|by BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Grant Wiley isn't looking to have any tearful, fuzzy moments on Thursday.

In fact, West Virginia University's All-American linebacker isn't planning any warm handshakes for Maryland quarterback Scott McBrien.

"I'm still friends with him but that's old news," Wiley said of McBrien, a former teammate who transferred to Maryland. "The only thing I plan to do when I see him is to hit him."

So much for friendship. So much for holiday cheer.

That's all out the window when the Mountaineers face Maryland on Thursday in the Gator Bowl. After all, McBrien has faced his former team twice in the last 15 months and has led his present team, the Terrapins, to two victories by a combined score of 82-24.

When you're a linebacker, especially one with a foul dispostion after two lopsided losses, friends don't let friends drive for touchdowns.

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"It's not hard. They have come out and put points on us fast," Wiley said. "If they score we have to buckle down on defense. We haven't come out an played our greatest of games against them. We have to come out with one this time."

In both encounters between the longtime rivals, McBrien has come out to lead Maryland to huge leads early in the game.

In 2002, the Terps scored 28 points in the first quarter at Mountaineer Field - including a 21-yard TD run by McBrien, complete with a somersault in the end zone.

It was more of a methodical beating this season at Byrd Stadium in College Park, Md. McBrien didn't score, but he led the Terps to the first 34 points of the game in a 34-7 drubbing. WVU's offense was shutdown completely, forcing the Mountaineer defense to play for nearly eight more minutes than the offense.

Wiley collected nine tackles in the second Maryland meeting, but that is less than a true indication of what he has meant to the Mountaineers this season.

Wiley is a four-year starter at linebacker and has been in on 483 tackles, more than 120 hits per season, in his career at WVU.

He accounted for 158 tackles in his senior season, including 14 for losses and forcing seven fumbles, which leads the nation. The 6-foot-1, 235-pound senior needs two tackles against Maryland on Thursday to become West Virginia's all-time leading tackler.

The whole package gives a pretty good indication of why Wiley won't be allowing McBrien to stop over to borrow a cup of sugar on game day.

"Maryland has played well for a long stretch, just like us," Wiley said. "Except for one game - if you take away Georgia Tech - they would have won seven straight just like we have."

That's where the comparisons have to stop.

Wiley and the Mountaineers have been twice bitten by the Terps and don't plan on being thrice shy at the Gator Bowl.

"We know what to expect from them and we know the type of players they have," Wiley said. "Now it's a matter of going out and executing. We just got to do what we have been coached to do."

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