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'Running Scared' opens to Friedgen's reviews

September 16, 2005|by BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - After last Saturday, Ralph Friedgen decided to become Roger Ebert with a whistle.

The University of Maryland football coach decided to watch and rate a film. It wasn't a comedy, a horror flick or a mystery, and yet, it was all three combined.

It was the game film from Maryland's 28-24 loss to Clemson. But instead of giving the Terps' cinematic effort a thumbs-up or thumbs-down sign, it was more like the palm pointing straight down in a "y-ahh" motion.

The title of this movie might be called "Running Scared."

"We did a self-scout on ourselves," Friedgen said. "I was very concerned with the running game after Saturday."

The Terps seemed to be in a standstill. Tailback Mario Merrills was held to 21 yards after getting 149 yards in the win over Navy. The Terps managed just 56 yards on the ground against Clemson's defensive quickness.

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It all bothered Friedgen, who is making a concerted effort to make the Terps a more balanced running team.

"I was very concerned because we had 17 unsuccessful runs," Friedgen said. "Seven of them were because we were in unsuccessful plays. We should have checked out of the plays. We have to improve on what we are doing."

The reason for the review and Friedgen's concern might be because of what lies ahead for the Terps. They host 2-0 West Virginia in the renewal of their rivalry Saturday at Byrd Stadium.

"I was watching them on film, looking for answers. That's why I was a little late getting here," Friedgen said Tuesday at his weekly press conference. "We have to prepare for a good football team. They are the No. 1 defense in the country, allowing 128 yards per game."

WVU has defeated a Syracuse team which is learning to run the West Coast Offense and NCAA Division I-AA Wofford in its first two games.

"This week, we are facing a run defense that causes a lot of problems," Friedgen said.

Against Maryland, the Mountaineers are facing a Terrapins team looking for an identity and improvement at the same time.

The Terps' young offense was prone to some mistakes, which hampered the chance to beat Clemson in the long run.

"Our run game will be OK in time," Friedgen said. "We had some runs that could have been better. We had some eight-yard games that could have been 15- or 20-yard gains."

One player who could help the Terps quickly is quarterback Sam Hollenbach. The junior has been working so hard to get the offense down, he has been ignoring one part of the game that could make it all easier for everyone.

"What I'd like to get Sam involved in his game is his ability to run," Friedgen said. "There are opportunities where he could scramble and he has enough speed that he could hurt defenses. When he gets that going, he'll be very difficult to defend."

Friedgen's final review of the Clemson tape wasn't a feel-good movie, but it did calm a few nerves.

"After viewing it, I wasn't that upset," he said. "Am I happy? No. Do we have to get better? Yes."

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