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Maryland's offense has its Ball

August 27, 2006|by BOB PARASILITI

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The University of Maryland has at least one player who wants an old adage to be true.

They say, "You can't run the offense without a Ball."

For the Terps, that's Lance Ball.

Ball returns as the top ground threat from the 2005 season for a Maryland team that had a lot of inconsistancies. There will be a lot of offensive changes for the Terps this season, but it will still come down to following a bouncing Ball to have any success.

"I still feel like the top dog," Ball said at Maryland's annual media day. "I felt that way last year."

Ball was the top runner on a 5-6 team. Maryland spent most of the season trying to find an offensive identity behind quarterback Sam Hollenbach. Ball rushed for more than 100 yards in four of his last seven games to become as close to a go-to guy as the Terps had all season.

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Still, the offensive landscape is changing this season.

First, head coach Ralph Friedgen is assuming the role of offensive coordinator. That has brought on some high anticipation since Friedgen ran the offense at Georgia Tech when it won a national title and at San Diego when the Chargers advanced to the Super Bowl.

Second, Maryland will regain the services of Josh Allen. Allen, who was the Terps' second leading runner in 2004, is returning after missing 2005 with a leg injury.

And finally, the running game will carry a telling barometer to Maryland's 2006 success. The Terps have more experience in the backfield than at receiver, so the running backs will literally have to carry the ball for Maryland to be a success.

With Friedgen at the controls and Allen joining Ball and Keon Lattimore in the backfield, almost anything can happen ... and probably will.

"It will be totally different with Coach Friedgen at coordinator. Everywhere he has been he has been a success," Ball said.

Some of the versatility will come with the addition of Allen. Ball has shown the ability to make tacklers miss while Allen is know for being a strong north-south runner, which will give Maryland some diversity.

"It's an added attribute for our offense," Ball said. "We can be a dynamic one-two punch. We compliment each other. It's always good to have an extra running back that can pick up the slack.

Ball has had a first-hand view of Allen's comeback from his injury as his roommate. Allen was injured in the second quarter of the 2004 season finale with Wake Forest with a dislocated knee cap with tears in the anterior cruciate and lateral collateral ligaments.

"It's amazing for him to come back from an injury like that," Ball said. "Josh has worked hard to come back."

Allen remained a major part of Maryland's offense, standing on the sidelines and giving suggestions and encouragement to Ball while he was trying to establish himself last season.

Now, they will team to be one of the major focal points of a Maryland offense that will have to be able to run the ball consistently to be able to throw the ball effectively.

"We will have to go out and run the ball hard to open it up for the passing game," Ball said. "(The receivers) will have to step up and learn fast. There will be a lot of flexibility at running back. We will have some plays when we will be running two backs, but there will be times we will have three backs, too. With Friedgen calling the offense, we will have an open playbook this year."

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