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Terrapins need to right their many wrongs

September 19, 2005|by BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Ralph Friedgen and the University of Maryland football team say they know what it takes to be a good football team.

The only problem is their point of reference is opposite of everything they have been doing to date.

It was wrong ... all wrong ... for the Terps in their 31-19 loss to West Virginia on Saturday. The defense was porous. The offense was stagnant. And the process was nothing like Friedgen has seen since he has been at Maryland.

"This is obviously a disappointing loss," a somber Friedgen said. "We didn't play with the enthusiasm that I'd hope we'd play with. I don't know really what the reason is and who should take responsibility for that."

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Friedgen volunteered to take the brunt of the blame, but he isn't wearing the chinstraps.

Most of Maryland's problems are up front. The Terps can draw a line, but haven't been able to play on one. Offensively and defensively, Maryland isn't giving itself any chances to make plays.

"We aren't running the ball. ... We are working hard on trying to do that," Friedgen said. "We aren't getting off the blocks and making tackles."

The ground game was - and is - more like ground chuck. The Terps have been dead meat when it comes to running the ball.

WVU turned Maryland into primarily a passing team by choking off the rushing lanes. The Mountaineers routinely penetrated into the Terps' backfield, much like Clemson did on Sept. 10 in its 28-24 win over Maryland.

"If you can't get the running game going, it's hard to win," Maryland offensive lineman Derek Miller said. "This year, we haven't been able to run the ball at all. These past two games combined, we might have totaled 100 yards (113). If you can't run the ball, you're not going to win football games."

Without the running game, quarterback Sam Hollenbach became a sitting duck. Maryland's line didn't provide him with enough time to make his reads and find receivers before he was hit and on his back. Hollenbach managed 291 passing yards, with 187 coming in the fourth quarter when it was all the offense the Terps had to offer.

Defensively, the problems are more disturbing.

"We have never played this poor on defense from the time I have been here," Friedgen said. "Defensively, we aren't doing a good job up front. We can't get off blocks and make tackles. That used to be our trademark. We used to get off blocks and get in the offense's face. Now there are linemen getting through and they are getting on our linebackers."

It was a big day for D'Qwell Jackson with 15 tackles, but it was more work than it was worth.

The All-American candidate at linebacker was fighting off WVU blocks for most of the day and was forced to make many hits after chasing WVU ball carriers down from behind.

"We just couldn't seem to win the battle up front," Jackson said. "The front seven couldn't get a feel for their offense. They just ran the ball down our throats today and there is nothing you can say to that. In my years here, we have never let a team run the ball on us like that."

WVU grounded out 301 yards rushing, including 137 in the fourth quarter when it scored 24 of its 31 points. The Mountaineers began to shred Maryland's defense, which spent more than 34 minutes on the field.

Knowing what to do to fix Maryland's shortcomings is one thing. Doing it is a completely different story for the Terps if they plan on salvaging the season.

"We have to go out there and start playing," Friedgen said. "I don't know if they are afraid to make a mistake. They aren't playing as recklessly as I'd like. I have to find a way to make them to play with their hearts, with enthusiasm and have fun doing it."

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