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Maryland has nothing in the bank at Byrd Stadium

October 10, 2004|by BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Maryland football coach Ralph Friedgen is about ready to adopt a Donald Trump attitude.

It's getting to the point where the Terrapins must perform, or be ready to hear "You're fired."

It became obvious that the apprenticeships are over on the Maryland football team as Georgia Tech did everything but force Maryland's offense to claim Chapter 11. The No. 23 Terps looked bankrupt in a 20-7 pounding by Georgia Tech on Saturday before the fifth-largest crowd ever at Byrd Stadium.

"I'm going to do whatever I got to do to win football games," Friedgen grumbled. "I'll change people and fire coaches, I will do what I got to do. I don't know if that's necessarily the answer. ... We have some situations going where it is going to take time to get better."

Like it or not, starting quarterback Joel Statham might be the first one in the boardroom after possibly Maryland's most inept offensive performance in the four seasons under Friedgen. Georgia Tech's defense turned Statham, who entered the game as the Atlantic Coast Conference's leader in total offense and passing, into Fred Astaire as he tried to tap dance out of the way of pressure.

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Statham was lifted from the game with 6:17 left in the third quarter and was replaced by true freshman Jordan Steffy for the rest of the game. Steffy suffered a similar fate, but opened the door for possible changes under center.

"Joel just couldn't do anything right," Friedgen said. "We just felt like we needed a lift. ... I don't think this is all on the quarterback. He's got to get some help."

Statham found himself in a quagmire of defensive linemen as the Yellow Jackets' blitzing defense swept him under. Still, many of Statham's throws were well off the mark.

Maryland managed just 81 yards of total offense, with Statham managing to produce just 68 of them - the exact total the Terps had at the half - before Steffy took over. Steffy got the Terps into the end zone for their only score - a 2-yard run by Sammy Maldonado early in the fourth quarter - but only managed a total of 13 yards during his work.

It was the worst Maryland outing since the 2002 opener against Notre Dame in the Pigskin Classic, when the Terps managed 131 yards of offense. On Saturday, Maryland finished with 7 yards rushing on 38 attempts, a 0.2 yards per rush average. Statham and Steffy had four fumbles, although none was lost, and accounted for minus-68 yards on the ground as each quarterback was sacked four times.

"I don't think I could ever say enough about the defensive effort tonight," Georgia Tech coach Chan Gailey said. "Maryland moved the ball a bit the first couple of times they had the ball, but after that, we just sacked them and kept them off balance.

"I think coach (Jon) Tenuta has a great feel for their protections, so we were able to get some pressure and rattle the quarterback. If you keep the quarterback off balance, I don't care who it is, you've got a chance to win."

Friedgen deferred from selecting a quarterback for next Saturday's game with North Carolina State, but said he will study the situation over the next few days.

"I'm really going to evaluate the film," Friedgen said. "I think from what I saw tonight, (Steffy) has a good chance of getting in. Whether we go to him or not, I don't know if he's ready for that yet or not. We'll have to wait and see."

Player interviews were minimal after the game, which was an indication of just how badly Maryland played. There was little to say about the second home loss in Friedgen's tenure at Maryland, and there was only a couple of players to say it.

"It is very frustrating," Maryland offensive guard C.J. Brooks said. "We thought we worked hard this week. We rested up during the bye week, but we still didn't get the job done. There are some things we have to work on to get this thing right. I think this is an eye-opener. We have to do a lot. There's something missing that's not pushing us over the top. We are not the team we need to be."

Friedgen has vowed to get to the bottom of it all.

"To me, this is the worst we played in a long time," Friedgen said. "We did a very, very poor job of preparing these kids for this game. I have to look at myself in the mirror. I'm not very proud of what I've done. To play like we did tonight is very disheartening. I told the kids last night that this would be a real test to see where we are. And if this is where we are, we're in trouble. We've got to get a lot better than this if we want to get to a bowl game."

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