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Coming up roses?

Maryland squad tries to leave rough 2004 season behind

Maryland squad tries to leave rough 2004 season behind

August 09, 2005|by BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Success is like a bouquet of roses.

Their beauty is something to behold, but don't forget about the thorns.

University of Maryland football started to bloom into one of the up-and-coming programs in the country in its first three years under coach Ralph Friedgen.

There was a surprise Atlantic Coast Conference title and three consecutive bowl trips to help it all take root. All was rosy with the world.

All the early success was so pretty, even Friedgen took time to stop and smell the roses. But in 2004, the Terps got stuck. Inconsistency, a 5-6 record and no bowl game became the thorns in Maryland's side.

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The off year hit Friedgen like hay fever, giving him something to sneeze at for a painful lesson.

"I look back and start over every year," Friedgen said Monday during Maryland's annual media day press conference. "I look at how well we've done and look back at the film. I analyze it.

"Last year, I didn't do that. I felt like we had everybody back on our staff. We had been together for three years. I will never do that again. Last year ... you can put that one on me."

There is much more resolve and even more motivation to make 2005 a better season. It won't be without challenges, though, as the Terps try to break in another quarterback, find a featured running back and deal with young and inexperienced offensive and defensive lines.

"I don't think there's any question that we're more motivated," Friedgen said. "I watched our spring film about 15 times. When our coaches got off the road, I spent two weeks with the offensive coaches going over that spring film to make sure we were all on the same page. I think we've done our diligence."

Maryland has an ample and specific "To Do" list to follow.

  • Get quarterback Sam Hollenbach ready to take over the starting offense. "The quarterback has to play smart, make good decisions, don't turn the ball over and make plays," Friedgen said.

  • Make the offense diverse again by re-establishing the running game. The Terps got away from running the ball effectively last season. Friedgen has assembled a corps of four fullbacks while finding ways to incorporate H-backs and tight end Vernon Davis to regain some punch.

  • Find a receiver to become the deep threat to "stretch the field" for the passing game.

  • Unify the offensive and defensive lines so they help the quarterback and the linebackers do their jobs.

  • Find young players to step in and add depth to a secondary which lost six players to graduation last year.

  • Find a kick returner to replace Steve Suter and a placekicker to take over for Nick Novak on special teams.

  • Find a long snapper to help execute the punting and placekicking games.



"I hope there are a lot of similarities (to the first season at Maryland)," Friedgen said. "This group of players is very similar in the terms of preparation. I think the kids are really hungry. They want to make amends for last year. Not going to a bowl game didn't hit them until they saw everyone else playing. That's where they wanted to be."

The whole process started Monday with Maryland's first official practice and it all has to be in place by Sept. 3 when the Terps rekindle an old, in-state rivalry with Navy at the Baltimore Ravens' M&T Stadium.

And Friedgen is putting the onus on his staff to get the job done before the bloom is off the rose.

"We have to work real hard. We have new plays and new techniques to learn," Friedgen said. "I told our coaches that we have to do the best coaching jobs of our lives. I'm going to be very much involved. I'm going to make sure we get things done."

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