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The Rich Parson project

Terps wide receiver hopes to carry team past No. 5 Seminoles

Terps wide receiver hopes to carry team past No. 5 Seminoles

October 29, 2004|by BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - With the way things have been going for the University of Maryland football team, the Terrapins are feeling like they have been kicked in the pants.

Maryland's losses have outnumbered its wins. The offense has fizzled instead of sizzled. And suddenly, some Terps fans have gone from loyal to fickle.

But receiver Rich Parson has taken a proactive approach to the whole situation. Maryland has a chance to cure a lot of ills on Saturday when it faces No. 5 Florida State at Byrd Stadium and Parson wants to change the Terps' focus to above the belt line.

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"I'm going into this game with the mentality that I have to make every catch and I have to make every play," the senior receiver said. "I'll put the team on my back if I have to."

Emotions have been subdued around the Maryland campus as the Terps have hit the speed bumps in the road.

Maryland is suffering through the growing pains of the first-year quarterbacking of Joel Statham. While Statham has been hard-pressed to produce any positive results, the rest of the offense has tumbled around him.

The Terps' ground game has been buried and the offensive line has been making the little mistakes that have been putting the brakes on many drives. Meanwhile, the defense has been put in constant pressure to keep Maryland in games.

The problems are there, but Parson says it's time to look past them and to quit feeling sorry about it all.

Parson's role might be more prominent this week as receiver Derrick Fenner is out for this week's game, which could give the senior more action.

"We can't be putting the blame on the quarterbacks anymore," Parson said. "We have to each step up and make plays."

The lack of plays and breaks cropped up against the Terps in last week's 10-7 loss to Clemson. Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen was critical of the offense's lack of concern to detail and consistency during his weekly media conference. And the intangibles - like a last-minute pass interference play that set up Clemson's winning score with 23 seconds remaining - have gone against Maryland.

The only constant has been the defense, which has allowed just 43 points in the last three games. The only problem? The offense has managed to put 17 on the board.

Linebacker D'Qwell Jackson has been one player who has consistently "stepped up" for Maryland during the drought. The junior middle linebacker win the weekly Atlantic Coast Conference top defensive lineman honor for his 18 tackles in the loss to Clemson.

"On the defensive side of the ball, we felt like we played 59 minutes last week,' Jackson said. "It's a disappointment anytime you lose. No matter how many tackles I have, it doesn't mean anything to me unless we get that W. We just have got to play better than the opposing defense. That's the way we have to look at it with our offense struggling."

A win against Florida State would be a monumental boost for the Terrapins, who still believe they could win the last four games to earn a bowl bid.

"One of the goals we've has since I've come here is to beat a top 10 team and that opportunity is going to be available again this weekend," Friedgen said. "I'm playing every game to win, and I think if we could win one of these games here, it would do tremendous things for our confidence and who knows what could happen after that? Right now, I'm focusing on the Florida State game and giving that our best shot."

In the past, the Florida State game was the marquee matchup which was used to define the Maryland season. Now, because of the three-game losing streak, the Terps have been able to eliminate some of the pressure that goes with the game.

"We need to go out and have fun," Friedgen said. "Let's just get after people and see what happens."

That's more on the line of Parson's train of thought.

"(Clemson is) a loss that's tough to deal with, but I'm ready to catch more passes," he said. "Right now, I just want to beat Florida State. It all depends on which team shows up. Football is fun. Sometimes you may not have a great team or game, but you get the chance to line up to play another day."

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