New kind of motivation needed for this year's Terps

October 28, 2004|by BOB PARASILITI

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Maryland football coach Ralph Friedgen is having his public speaking skill tested this year.

Maryland's master motivator has had to shelve his collection of "The Gipper" speeches and resort to a pile of "Feeling chipper" reinforcements to get the Terrapins past the worst stretch in his tenure.

"As much as it pained me, I talked about the Red Sox coming back, going extra innings and beating the Yankees," Friedgen said. "That's probably not a situation that you would have expected. Football is played on the field with mental approach and attitude."

But no matter how positive he keeps his presentation, Friedgen knows the Terps have a lot of things to remedy at practices while he preaches.


"We aren't as sharp and detailed as we should be," said Friedgen. "Part of that is youth, but we still have to do the things we need to do."

Friedgen's perfectionist side is feeling less than 100 percent on the play of the offense. A total collapse would be one thing, but a lack of polish might be the only thing keeping Maryland's season from becoming a total loss.

Friedgen used a sweep play which was stopped for a 7-yard loss in last Saturday's 10-7 loss to Clemson. Maryland blockers missed their targets by an instant and blocks by an inch which changed a perfectly executed play into a mess.

"We were in the perfect position, but we didn't do it," Friedgen said. "We ran the play a couple of times after that and it worked, but that one time stops a drive. And the thing that irritates me is that it's a block that we have been working on since spring. We have to do things exactly the way we want them to be."

While quarterbacks Joel Statham mostly and Jordan Steffy recently have shouldered the brunt of criticism of what's wrong with Maryland, the lack of sharp execution has had an underlying effect on the Terps' play.

The quarterbacks have faltered, but the offensive line hasn't been given total execution on its blocks. Not only has it allowed opposing defenses to add more pressure to the struggling quarterbacks, it has held Maryland back from producing a competent and productive ground game to force other teams to play honest.

"It's a lot of little things and you can go on and on about them," Maryland center Kyle Schmitt said. "It's little things that you can see on the film. We aren't getting physical up front. And when you do that and you aren't precise, you'll get beat. If you relax, they'll beat you."

Friedgen has turned to team meetings and other gimmicks to get the Terps back on track. More problems are on the horizon for Maryland because it plays No. 5 Florida State, No. 13 Virginia and No. 22 Virginia Tech in the next three games.

"We worked hard during the summer and during the year," linebacker D'Qwell Jackson said. "I believe the harder you work, the luckier you get. It's going to pay off sooner or later."

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