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Friedgen: Terps due for some good breaks

October 11, 2006|by BOB PARASILITI

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Don't look now, but University of Maryland football coach Ralph Friedgen is tempted to break the law.

People on the morality front, take a deep breath and relax. Friedgen isn't about to do anything rash.

After all, that would be pretty tough for him to do, considering he has state police officers guarding him on his every move.

No, this is more of an unwritten rule. It's the law of averages.

For the last two years, breaks have gone against the Terrapins when it comes to key spots in games. Maryland has lost breaks, and thus lost games. It was just the universe catching up with the Terps.

"Two years ago, I got a call from Steve Spurrier," said Friedgen during his weekly media conference. "He said, 'Ralph, for the first three years there, the ball bounced your way. It's just not going your way now.' He's right, but shouldn't everything start evening up?"

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It was a rhetorical question, but there is evening up and Evening up. It's a lot tougher to swallow when everything is going against you.

Turnovers and miscues continue to plague the Terps (3-2, 0-1) as they get past the wading stages of the Atlantic Coast Conference schedule. Maryland was on the doorstep of pulling a major upset last Saturday at Georgia Tech. That is, until the fourth quarter started and five plays helped turn a 23-14 lead into a 27-24 loss.

"For a guy who prays a lot, this shouldn't be happening to him," Friedgen cracked.

Divine intervention hasn't stopped drops and interceptions.

The Terps ran 17 plays in the fourth quarter. Three resulted in sacks of quarterback Sam Hollenbach, one resulted in an interception and one ended with a lost fumble. There was also an intentional grounding call on Hollenbach on one of the plays he was sacked, a call the Yellow Jackets declined.

"I don't think there is another coach in the country as in touch with the point of not turning the ball over as much as me," Friedgen said. "I work at it and I think Sam is very conscious of it. I'm not disappointed in Sam. I just want him to make some more plays."

Turnovers have plagued Maryland this season. The terps are on the short end of the ratio stick that is usually an indicator of winning teams. The Terps are just over 2-to-1 behind the opposition, with 13 giveaways and six takeaways. Seven of the giveaways have come in losses to West Virginia and Georgia Tech.

"Like a lot of times in life, some things just don't work out," Friedgen said. "You just have to keep pressing and persevering. At some point, a door will open, and you have to be ready by the time that comes."

The Terps looked like a rebuffed Fuller Brush salesman against Georgia Tech. The door was constantly slammed in their collective face.

The first sack of Hollenbach in the fourth quarter forced a punt that resulted in a touchdown to bring the Yellow Jackets within two points at 23-21. Lance Ball fumbled on the first play of the next possession, setting Tech up for the go-ahead score.

After that, Maryland lost prime scoring opportunities when Hollenbach was intercepted - leading to a missed field goal for Tech - and when two sacks and the intentional grounding call choked off the Terps' comeback.

"I told them before practice (Monday) that if we would have punted the ball twice, we probably would have won the game," Friedgen said. "Sometimes I wonder what I did wrong. We aren't getting a break anywhere."

In the final minute, Maryland had the ball first-and-goal at the Georgia Tech 7. On third-and-goal at the 4, Hollenbach was sacked for a 15-yard loss - when the intentional grounding occurred and was declined. The Terps went for one more try with 35 seconds remaining. After a timeout, Hollenbach faded back and looked for tight end Joey Haynos in the end zone, but before he could make the throw, he was sacked again.

"I should be smarter. I should have changed the play," Friedgen said. "During the timeout, we talked and Joey said he could score. I was impressed that he wanted the ball in the situation. I let my emotions get the best of me."

Now the Terps are waiting for a door to open against Virginia this weekend. Last year, the Virginia game was the breakout performance of the season for the Terps. This time, they might need that and more, even if just for psychological reasons.

"This is a very big game for us. It is an interstate rivalry and has been a big game for as long as I can remember," Friedgen said. "We have to be ready to play, focus and play the best we possibly can to get a win. What we have to do is get ourselves back from this disappointing loss. The team that can get up the most times will be the one that wins it."




Terps not on TV? Try online



If you want to watch the Maryland-Virginia football game, don't turn on the TV.

It will only be on a computer near you maybe.

For the second straight week, the Terps game will be on ESPN 360 at 3:30 p.m., but it isn't your conventional television hookup. It can only be viewed on computers with broadband providers.

Maryland athletic department officials have voiced their displeasure that the Maryland-Virginia rivalry isn't on conventional or cable television, but the game is a casualty of the Atlantic Coast Conference television contracts.

ESPN 360 is a free service, but it must be viewed with a high-speed service affiliated with ESPN. It runs on the computer's media player off www.ESPN360.com. It is available to Verizon customers, but not Comcast in the Baltimore/Washington area.

Maryland officials said they have been getting many phone calls from fans, but don't have a better answer to give them when it comes to getting the game.

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