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Terps tee up to drive wide of Owls trap

October 05, 2005|by BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - University of Maryland football coach Ralph Friedgen was walking very gingerly on Tuesday.

There was no physical problem, like a sports hernia, involved. It was one of those kinds of gaits that come when you are afraid of taking a next step.

Friedgen was about as cautious as one gets when they are sliding with a back against the wall trying to work the edges during his weekly media conference. Things are on the upswing after last Saturday's 45-33 upset win over Virginia, but the road ahead is lined with landmines, starting this weekend at Temple.

"This game scares me," Friedgen said. "It could be trap because of the youth of our football team. We played very well, but as I told the team, last week could be the beginning of something or it could be the end of something."

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That's where Temple comes in like the old rope gimmick that snares the unassuming hunter and snaps them up a palm tree by an ankle like in the old jungle movies.

If the Terrapins take 0-5 Temple for granted ... got ya. If they take care of business, good things might be ahead.

Friedgen said he's using different stories - like Temple beating an undefeated Virginia Tech in 1998 - and some fatherly preaching to keep Maryland from getting too high after the Virginia victory. But, how the Terps will react will be anyone's guess.

"We're very happy with the way we played," Friedgen said. "It was a big win. We had the running game and passing game going and were making plays.

"Temple is struggling, but they have some players that worry me because of the matchups."

The Owls didn't look too wise last Saturday in a 70-7 loss to Bowling Green. Still, Friedgen is concerned by Temple's defensive front, which has two 300-pound tackles - Adam Fichter and Antwon Burton - and a pair of speedy ends - Mike Mendenhall and Christian Dunbar - to deal with.

"They have two big tackles that I haven't seen anybody able to block them," Friedgen said. "And they have two fast guys coming off the ends. (Jared) Gaither and (Brandon) Nixon have had trouble dealing with speed guys. Temple has nothing to lose and they will be coming in to win."

A win becomes extremely important for Maryland, too. At 3-2 overall, the Terps are three wins short of becoming bowl eligible. A win over Temple means Maryland will have to win just two more games out a second half of a schedule consisting of Virginia Tech, Florida State, North Carolina, Boston College and North Carolina State.

"All I can do is talk to the players," Friedgen said. "If you're going to be the best you possibly can be, you have to be mentally tough to block out who you're playing and execute on that day. The team that is going to win the ACC Championship is the team that can get up the most Saturdays in the year. We have to prepare like we have the last few weeks and play like we have for the last few weeks."

That means the Terps have to stay within the moment and look out for traps to make the Virginia victory the beginning of something instead of the end of something.

"Last year when we beat Florida State, Bobby Bowden asked me where our offense has been all year," Friedgen said. "He was right. But right after that, the offense went to sleep."

Friedgen is trying to make sure the Terps get insomnia - and amnesia - after the Virginia victory to get ready for Temple, a team which Maryland is favored to beat by 28 points.

"I hope this team can continue to improve," he said. "I don't want Virginia to be our high point of the season because we have a lot of big games ahead."

For whatever reason, Maryland players have a motivation to understand why they should be careful before they step.

"We've had a whole week to celebrate the Virginia win and we have a lot to lose," running back Lance Ball said. "We know Friedgen likes to win and, if we lose, it will be a long week."

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