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Terps try to stir shaken confidence

September 23, 2005|by BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Despite a 1-2 start, University of Maryland football coach Ralph Friedgen has all the confidence in the world.

He might want to syphon some off for his young Terrapins, though.

While Friedgen professes that the Terps are near to putting it all together to become a consistent football team, Maryland's young players are having doubts and growing pains, especially after two unnerving losses in the last two weeks.

Friedgen has two remedies for the problem ... past experiences of having a 1-2 record and just some overall experience.

"I tell them that we've been here before," Friedgen said. "We have a young team and I think our confidence is a little shaken. We all have jitters. What we have to do is go back to our fundamentals."

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Maryland struggled until it came back to down Navy in the opener and has been manhandled in the fourth quarter of its last two games for the two losses.

Friedgen is trying to draw off Maryland's 2002 season when the Terps ran off eight straight wins after the 1-2 start and finished 11-3, including a win at the Peach Bowl.

"We have been a little bit unlucky," Friedgen said. "We feel that all we have to do is correct mistakes, play hard, stop the run and run better. The kids are a little down after this game, and they should be."

That's where the thin line falls between confidence and sulking. Friedgen is trying to convince the Terps that it's a loss, feel it, learn from it and move on.

"I think it's important that they feel bad," Friedgen said. "I told the players last night, though, I think it's good they feel bad, but there is nothing you can do about it now. Now we have to get ready to go out there and take on Wake Forest.

"When I was a young coach, I had a hard time getting past losses. When you do that too much, it hurts your game. We have to learn to forget and do it over the next week and then the next week."

Maryland has not only fallen short on the scoreboard, but it has stumbled in its execution. The Terps have failed to run the ball consistently which has limited the game plan.

Meanwhile, self-inflicted instances and penalties have prolonged the defense's stay on the field, forcing them to log extra, tiring time on the field.

"So many things change in a game," Friedgen said. "If you get a score, you can get some confidence. We did that the first year I was here. They were inexperienced, but they were an older team. They were able to do things to help themselves, like get turnovers. We have to start doing that."

But if Maryland is going to get confidence, it has to get it while in games. A win at Wake Forest would be a prime place to start.

"The team that doesn't beat itself usually wins," Friedgen said. "The last two weeks, we haven't done that. Once you start to do that, confidence comes and a lot of times you play better than you really should play because you believe in yourself. We'll get there. We just have to keep working."

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