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Friedgen finds many different angles to assess Maryland victory

September 07, 2005|by BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - There were three big news stories coming out of the University of Maryland's victory over Navy last Saturday.

The good news.

The bad news.

The Friedgen news.

There was much to rave about, review and rewind after the Terrapins beat the clock to beat Navy 23-20 last Saturday before a near-capacity crowd at Baltimore's M&T Bank Stadium.

Maryland fell under the microscope as the performance was pulled apart and dissected as the first step of a return to a winning record after last season's misstep.

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"When we looked at the tape, we made a lot of mistakes on both sides of the ball ...," Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen said Tuesday during his weekly media conference.

Bad news.

"... We made more in the first half than in the second half. It was because of inexperience ...," he said.

Good news.

"... They came back," he finished.

Friedgen news.

Aesthetically, Maryland's win over Navy wasn't the most pleasing. There were pieces which became great starting points for the Terrapins and a few red flags to address.

But the biggest thing was Maryland was listed first on the box scores scoreline and left Baltimore with a 1-0 record.

"It was a good win," Friedgen said.

Still, there was plenty to assess, especially with the Terrapins moving into the Atlantic Coast Conference portion of the schedule on Saturday at noon when they host Clemson, which upset Texas A&M last weekend, in their home opener at Byrd Stadium.

- "I thought (quarterback Sam Hollenbach) was good," Friedgen said. "He'll get better. He never got rattled and put the team in position to make good decisions and good reads."

Hollenbach threw for 217 yards, including an 11-yard touchdown to Drew Weatherly with 1:01 remaining, to pull out the win. But Hollenbach threw a pair of interceptions early to stake Navy to a 14-3 halftime lead.

- "I was pleased with (tailback Mario Merrills)," Friedgen said. "If he keeps it up like he's done, he will be the running back."

Merrills was another good news story, rushing for 149 yards in a workhorselike 30 carries to help in the Terps' comeback. His opening performance rivaled the one by Bruce Perry against North Carolina in Friedgen's first game as Maryland's coach in 2001.

- "I thought the defense could play better, but that was a tough offense to get used to," Friedgen said. "(Navy) wasn't big, but they knew how to cut block and the could go after it."

Maryland held Navy to 149 yards and six points in the second half, those coming off an 80-yard drive late in the fourth quarter. Navy had 343 yards of offense in the game.

After weighing all sides of the first game, it boiled down to one fact ... the renewal of the Maryland-Navy rivalry after 40 years ended up becoming a much-needed victory for the Terrapins. It only magnified because Maryland remembers all too well last year's 5-6 record, which was only good enough to send the Terps home for the bowl season.

"Is this a critical win? They are all critical," Friedgen said. "Does it help our confidence? Sure, it helps our confidence. But no matter if we had lost, you're not going to quit and go home after one game. Other teams would have folded. It's a good sign.

"This team is like the first team I had here. They want to be good and they are searching for how to be good. We have to find a way to play better to win this week."

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