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Injury might shuffle Terps QBs

October 26, 2005|By BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - A twist of an arm might end up being a twist of fate for the University of Maryland football team.

The Terrapins wait patiently, anxiously awaiting word on whether starting quarterback Sam Hollenbach will play Saturday in a crucial Atlantic Coast Conference game at Florida State. With so much at stake, Maryland obviously would like their No. 1 man in the No. 1 position.

But Hollenbach has been unable to practice in the first two days of preparation for the Seminoles because of an injury to his nonthrowing shoulder he suffered in last Thursday's 28-9 loss to No. 3 Virginia Tech. And if Hollenbach is unable to answer the practice bell today, it becomes more likely that backup Joel Statham will get the start.

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For Statham, who started for Maryland in 2004 before losing the job to Hollenbach this season, it will be a rewind to what was his finest moment as a Terrapins quarterback. He led Maryland to a 20-17 win over the then-No. 5 Seminoles one year ago as the major highlight in an otherwise forgettable 5-6, 3-5 season.

"I think he has done a heck of a job," said Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen during Tuesday his weekly media conference. "I've been very proud of Joel. He's been nothing but encouraging of Sam and has tried to help Sam as much as he can. He's patiently been waiting and the fact that he came out (Monday night) prepared and performed well adds to the credit he deserves. I expect him to do well if he plays on Saturday."

Statham struggled most of last season as Maryland's starter. But in the one game, on the biggest stage, he came through to give the Terps a glimmer of hope.

He threw for 333 yards and a touchdown while running for another score to lead Maryland to its first win over Florida State in 14 tries. But for the season, Statham threw eight touchdowns and 15 interceptions while completing 54 percent of his passes.

Even with Statham standing in the wings for a chance to reprise the performance, Friedgen is holding out hope that Hollenbach will be able to play.

"Right now, he's questionable," Friedgen said. "We're trying to let his shoulder quiet down. We'll know more (today)."

Hollenbach landed on his left shoulder while being tackled to end a 22-yard run in the second quarter against Virginia Tech. He got up from the ground, working the shoulder to make sure it was fit.

Hollenbach finished the possession and then left the field to be examined. Statham warmed up to replace him while the Hokies had the ball, but Hollenbach returned during the possession in time to take the field again.

Hollenbach wasn't the same after the hit. After the game, Friedgen said the quarterback was suffering from a strained AC joint in his shoulder and didn't know the severity of the injury at the time.

Since the injury is to his left, nonthrowing shoulder, it doesn't prevent Hollenbach from throwing the ball. But the injury does limit his ability to run the option and throws off his passing mechanics.

"If Sam can play, we will play him," Friedgen said. "He will try to practice (today) and we will evaluate him. Then we have to see how he practices and if he can pick up the game plan.

"Joel played his best game of the year against Florida State and he will be confident if he plays. When it comes down to playing, I'm looking for Sam to be there."

For now, Statham and Jordan Steffy, whom Friedgen would like to redshirt, are sharing the snaps in practice until there is a definitive word on Hollenbach. They had been splitting practice time, but Statham is starting to get more time just in case he is needed.

Tailback Keon Lattimore also injured a shoulder in the Virginia Tech loss and is questionable for this weekend. If he doesn't play, the running duties will be shared by Lance Ball and Mario Merrills.

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