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Everything is easier for Friedgen after a win

September 28, 2005|by BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The days of football coaches are like field goals.

They are either good or bad.

For University of Maryland football coach Ralph Friedgen, Tuesday felt as good as splitting the uprights.

"It's always better coming to talk to you guys on a Tuesday after a win," said Friedgen to the assembled media representatives at his weekly press conference.

There was a much different feeling surrounding the whole program after the Terrapins played their best game of the season last Saturday in a 22-12 win at Wake Forest.

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"I thought our kids played very well, especially on defense," Friedgen said. "We played like a defense. We pursued the ball and were able to get turnovers. Offensively, I thought we made strides. We ran the ball better. It was reminiscent of our old days."

It was fairly obvious that Friedgen was giddy about the victory. The last two Tuesdays were wide right and wide left after the Terps were manhandled in the fourth quarter in losses to Clemson and West Virginia.

In those games, the defense tired, the offense failed to run the ball consistently and the Terps lost because of self-inflicted penalties and a lack of execution that led to collapses in the final eight minutes of each game.

But against Wake Forest, Maryland (2-2, 1-1) mounted a more balanced attack while the defense held down the Deacons, who entered as the top rushing team in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

The Terps rushed for 162 yards - their second-best output of the season after the opening win over Navy - and threw for 169. The defense held Wake, which rushed for more than 400 yards the week before against East Carolina, to 111 yards on the ground.

"I think we are getting things under control a little more," Friedgen said. "I've been trying to establish the run because I think in the long run, that will help us. But we have been throwing the ball very well. I'd like to be more balanced on first down, but I'm sure it will even out by the end of the season."

The Terps ran the ball by committee, led by Keon Lattimore with 76 yards and a touchdown, while Lance Ball added 51 yards.

Sam Hollenbach managed a 12-for-22 passing day, despite only hitting tight end Vernon Davis, who has become an explosive target, twice for 28 yards.

In Friedgen's first three years, Maryland's offense was far more potent than it's showing now, but Friedgen says he's encouraged by the direction it is taking.

Now, Maryland must follow through and take another step forward this Saturday against No. 19 Virginia in a homecoming game which could lay the foundation for the rest of the season for the Terps.

There is a huge difference between being 3-2 and 2-3.

"I think we took some strides on Saturday," Friedgen said. "Two years ago, our line was so much older and more mature and experienced. This line is going to be good, but it's not there yet. If we can get a win this week, I think it will give our guys the confidence to go on for the rest of the season."

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