Hollenbach's responsibility carries less-stressed approach

August 13, 2006|by BOB PARASILITI

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Sam Hollenbach is in a cosmic place.

Somehow, stress is nothing more than a super-sized four-letter word to the University of Maryland quarterback.

Lesser men have cracked under the pressure of being a Division I starter. Hollenbach seemed to be one of them as he coped with all the slings and arrows of scrutiny of leading the Terrapins to a second straight 5-6 bowl-less season.

But he has turned the page using a style that would make the Dalai Lama look like a bully.

"We don't want to panic," Hollenbach said during the Terps' annual media day. "We could say that we need to get back to a bowl game this year, but we don't need any added pressure. We will take it as it comes. It's starting to feel like my senior year. I'm looking forward to the season. I don't want to add any pressure to myself ... I just want to go out and have a good season."


Hollenbach is almost holistic. He stood his ground to the battery of media day questions, with an unwavering calm. His Yin and Yang were in line in a Zen sort of way. You could almost hear the yoga chants in the background of his every response.

The attitude is something he picked up during the offseason. Last season, he wore every Maryland failure on his sleeve, pressuring himself into more mistakes.

"I made a lot of mistakes last year," the 6-foot-4, 215-pound senior said. "I agree with it and I feel comfortable with it. We were in the top half of the (Atlantic Coast Conference) in offense, but we didn't win because of the mistakes."

Hollenbach has faced a lot of change since last season. Maybe the most significant was coach Ralph Friedgen's choice to also become the Terps' offensive coordinator.

Friedgen grew frustrated with Hollenbach and the Terps' offense at the end of the season. Now the coach will be directly accountable for both, which has afforded him more time to work with Hollenbach.

"I think he's confident," Friedgen said. "I think Sam will be better because of the whole situation. We have a different relationship now. He speaks more freely and tells me what he sees.

"I'm pulling for him. He has been the subject of a lot of criticism. He has a lot against him. I'm really pulling for him."

Hollenbach played in all 11 games in 2005 and connected on 192 of 315 passes for 2,539 yards and 13 touchdowns, good enough to rank fourth in the ACC in average passing yardage. But he had 15 interceptions, a number of fumbles and had problems in crucial situations.

"(Last year) was an adjustment," Hollenbach said. "Just the experience coming back this year helps. I tried for a different confidence level in the offseason and I'm trying to take things a lot differently."

Maryland and Friedgen are firmly behind Hollenbach to start the season. The quarterback is one of four players featured on the cover of the school's media guide and he is positioned dead center.

Then, about 10 pages into the book, is a page featuring the "quarterback legacy" at Maryland, featuring the likes of Boomer Esiason and Neil O'Donnell.

And now, with Friedgen as almost a personal coach, the Terps will at least start out as Hollenbach's team. But this season, he will have to cope with a different look, since Maryland has more experience in the running game than with the wide receivers.

While it all will have a bearing on his season, Hollenbach is working on keeping his head, attitude - and Karma - intact to get the Terps back on a winning track.

"It all comes down to producing. That comes down to making plays," Hollenbach said. "And whoever comes in and makes plays should be playing ... and I'm fine with that.

"The goal for me is to get to a bowl game," he readily admits. "To get back there is the goal and what we have been working for. But we have to focus game by game. We can't look past William & Mary. Just play and 12 weeks later we'll see where we stand."

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