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Terps sweet on making Marshall mellow

September 16, 2004|by BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The University of Maryland used its own principles of football physics to handle West Virginia over the last two years.

The Terrapins have applied Marshall Law to prevent having to deal with Murphy's Law.

It's a matter of simple execution for the Terrapins. The plan: Don't allow West Virginia quarterback Rasheed Marshall to get on track and you won't have to worry about everything that can possibly going wrong, going wrong.

Marshall hasn't been a factor in the last three games Maryland and WVU have played over the last two seasons, and all three have been huge victories for the Terps. On Saturday, Maryland will have to marshal success against Marshall one more time, especially if the Terps plan to knock off the No. 7 Mountaineers in Morgantown, W.Va.

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"We always have a lot of respect for them. I think regardless of where they are ranked, we know it's going to be a tough game," Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen said. "There are a lot of things that have gone right for us in those other games, and hopefully they will continue to go right."

The main thing that has to go right for Maryland is its defense.

Marshall was the main weapon in WVU's run-and-shoot offense over the last two seasons, but the scheme didn't seem to work against the Terps.

Last year, Marshall and the Mountaineers were pushed into submission by the Terps. Marshall was held to 2 of 7 passing for 23 yards and minus-11 yards rushing on Sept. 20, 2003 in a 34-7 loss at Byrd Stadium. Maryland turned around and shackled Marshall to 10 of 16 passing for 87 yards and just 35 yards rushing for a 41-7 victory on Jan. 1 in the Gator Bowl.

The Terps were equally effective in a 48-17 win in Morgantown on Oct. 5, 2002.

Maryland jumped out to an early 28-0 lead and forced Marshall to carry the brunt of the offense. He managed 12 of 24 passing for 105 yards and just 33 yards rushing

"I think there were 100 different reasons why we haven't played well against them," West Virginia coach Rodriguez said Sunday to MSNsportsNET. "I think at times we were pressing too much and every mistake was magnified and they took advantage of them. We're going to have mistakes and they're going to make plays and we've just got to move on and try and make the next one."

While Marshall became the focal point of WVU's problems in the last three losses, it was a product of Maryland's ability to slow the Mountaineers' running game. WVU had strong running backs each of the last two seasons - Avon Cobourn in 2002 and Quincy Wilson in 2003 - but both were held to yardage in the middle of the field while Maryland put up early leads to take the more time consuming rushing attack out of the game.

"Last year, we took away their run and forced (Marshall) to be more active," Maryland defensive end Kevin Ely said. "We just play very disciplined. The coaches have got on us to be very discipline and to stay in our gaps. The coaches preach about discipline. The more discipline you have, the better you are."

Maryland's disciplined line play contained Marshall, keeping him inside the edges of the pocket and limiting his effectiveness in all three losses.

Marshall's role and game may depend on if tailback Kay-Jay Harris can play. Harris, who rushed for a school-record 337 yards against East Carolina on Sept. 4, had only two carries against Central Florida last week before suffering a hamstring injury. He is questionable for Saturday's game, but it doesn't mean WVU can't produce on the ground without him.

"They've got quite a few good running backs and all of them are pretty big backs that run very well," Friedgen said. "And they have a lot of tall, fast wide receivers that we are concerned about also. Marshall is throwing the ball better than he's ever thrown the ball. They get a lot of big plays because they run the football so well that people try to pack in and then they have the good wide receivers so they throw it up there and make the big play."

This time, Maryland's defense is heading into the game with a youthful edge. The Terps lost seven defensive backs to graduation and have revamped the defensive line. Middle linebacker D'Qwell Jackson left last week's win over Temple with a hyperextended elbow.

"The key for us is for the defensive line to dominate up front," Ely said. "Last week, (Temple quarterback Walter Washington) was pretty active and that helped prepare us for (Marshall). We have to play our best. If we don't dominate, it's going to be tough. There is a lot of pressure on us. I want to face them with everyone so they give us their best shot."

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