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Allen needs his old magic tricks to be life of party at WVU

September 17, 2004|by BOB PARASILITI

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Josh Allen remembers Morgantown for being a party town.

Two years ago, Allen had a great time at West Virginia Univerity as a University of Maryland freshman tailback who had a breakthrough game when the Terps needed it the most in a 48-17 victory on national television.

Allen returns to Mountaineer Field on Saturday with hopes of getting the party started again when the Terps face No. 7 WVU in what could become a pivotal game for both schools. But this time, the Mountaineers aren't planning to leave Allen - or any other Maryland running back - unattended.

WVU will have a welcoming party to greet the Terrapins' offense.

"Their defense structure makes it very difficult to run the football," Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen said. "They have a lot of guys in the box and they seem to keep those guys in there no matter what you do with your formation. West Virginia basically has the same team back they had at the Gator Bowl. They are a mature team."


The Mountaineers are 2-0, considered one of the top teams in the nation and are senior-laden, featuring a defense which is built to stop the run. WVU features up to eight defensive players in "the box" - the area which spans 5 yards from the line of scrimmage and is the width of the defensive line.

With so many bodies in such a small space, the intent is to snuff out the ground attack of opponents by keeping them to less than 3 yards per carry. West Virginia has allowed 228 yards rushing in its first two wins. Now it's trying to hamper Allen on the field where he enjoyed his first college success.

"Going up there brings back memories, but the past is past," Allen said. "It's time to move on and hopefully I'm better now. Let's play ball."

Allen ran for 116 yards on 16 carries, including touchdown runs of 70 and 1 yards, in the 2002 game. Allen was playing in his third game as a true freshman and showed flashes of things to come at the Mountaineers' expense.

WVU kept Allen in relative check in its two meetings with the Terps last season, but Allen backed up senior Bruce Perry to give Maryland's running game enough of a presence to open up the passing attack for quarterback Scott McBrien. McBrien threw for 601 yards and three touchdowns while leading the Terps to two wins by a combined score of 75-14 and was named the MVP in the Gator Bowl.

With McBrien and Perry gone and an inexperienced Joel Statham at quarterback, Maryland will need Allen to find some of his freshman magic at WVU. The problem is trying to find room to run.

"No matter what the defense does, we always have a game plan," Allen said. "We go in there knowing the game plan. You can't go in there blind. You have to be prepared. A lot of it depends on how we make our reads and the types of matchups we get. The matchups are the key."

Allen has been a master at following his offensive line in his first two years in Maryland's backfield. But despite all the Xs and Os and all the talk about game plans, the team which will have the most success will be the one that does all the right things.

"We are going to have to play Terp football," Allen said. "Whatever they do, we have to do whatever we need to counter. The coaches give us a scheme to work with to play Terp football."

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