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Hollenbach waiting for shot to exhale

November 25, 2005|by BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Sam Hollenbach is heading to Raleigh, N.C., to look for a breath mint.

The University of Maryland quarterback wants a chance to clean his palate with a flawless game against North Carolina State to cancel out his recent failure against Boston College.

"I want to get out there again because it left a bad taste in my mouth," Hollenbach said. "I was really down Saturday after the game and I spent Sunday thinking about it. By Sunday night, I had this incredible feeling to get out there again."

Hollenbach will be looking for the chance to redeem himself with a victory over North Carolina State. There is so much at stake for the Terps, namely a winning season and a possible bowl bid. Yet, personally, it will be just what he needs to get past the loss to Boston College, which could end up costing Maryland the season and the postseason.

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Hollenbach lost a fumble and had two interceptions which contributed to 17 of the 31 points Boston College scored for the win. The whole thing has been tough for Hollenbach to deal with.

"It's tough ... It's probably the toughest thing in sports to deal with," Hollenbach said of his disappointment. "We came up short after coming so close."

Falling short has been Maryland's biggest problem this season and is probably the biggest factor in the 5-5 season and the must-win status of Saturday's game with N.C. State.

Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen put in no uncertain terms that Hollenbach is the guy he is depending on to lead Maryland to the postseason Promise Land.

"It's our mistakes that are killing us right now, so we need to get better," Friedgen said. "I have a tremendous amount of confidence in Sam Hollenbach and I know that he'll do everything in his power to improve.

"I don't want him to lose his aggressiveness. I want him to build on his confidence because I have confidence in him. If I didn't, he wouldn't be the quarterback. We all have good and bad days. To be able to bounce back from this says a lot about you."

Bouncing back is about the only thing on Hollenbach's mind. It's been the only thing on his mind since the loss to Boston College.

"After watching the film, I wish I could have three or four plays back," Hollenbach said. "I'm not uncomfortable in the pocket, but I have been trying to force the ball and trying to make things happen."

Maryland has been able to move the ball into scoring territory but has been unable to get touchdowns on every occasion. Hollenbach is shouldering much of the blame and responsibility for the problems.

"I think I have matured as a quarterback, but I think I think too much," Hollenbach said. "I take things too far instead of just going out and playing. I have to be quicker with things. I have to have a playlist that I know to go to right away when something happens, instead of standing back there and reading while trying to move a defensive player with my eyes."

Hollenbach has been dealing with a sore right shoulder (his non-throwing arm). The junior suffered the injury when he was tackled at the end of a long run against Virginia Tech. It all but put him out of the Florida State game and has been a hindrance ever since.

"It is bothering my follow-through. It is an adjustment phase," Hollenbach said. "I'm not using that as any excuse, but I feel it. I can't wait to get done so I can get something done with it so I can feel good again.

"I take responsibility for what happened on Saturday. Now I have to move on and focus on N.C. State."

The combination of factors have hampered Hollenbach down Maryland's stretch drive for a bowl bid. Friedgen wants to keep his quarterback from being timid. The quarterback wants to make up for his mistakes.

The only thing that is certain, a loss on Saturday would keep the bad taste in Hollenbach's mouth for an entire offseason.

"The pressure is on the program," Hollenbach said. "I try not to put it on myself, but the tension is all around. We are looking at going home after this weekend. I am looking at guys like (receiver) Danny Melendez who could be playing their last game. Everyone is feeling the pressure ... I'm trying to put it in the back of my mind."

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