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Podlesh's impact a sign of Maryland's success

November 03, 2006|by BOB PARASILITI

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Adam Podlesh doesn't think his contributions have put his signature on any University of Maryland football game.

They do allow him to do a little doodling, though.

As the Terrapins' punter, Podlesh doesn't have touchdowns or tackles to count to show his effectiveness in a game. He's a guy who has to settle for subtleness to get his satisfaction of contribution.

"I feel like it's not my signature, but it's one of them," the senior said. "Field position has an overall impact on the game. In punting, you are always worried about height and distance, but its field position that has an impact on the game."

Podlesh more than did his part last Saturday when Maryland beat Florida State, 27-24. On a windy day that didn't help enhance kicks, Podlesh was able to place his kicks, pin the Seminoles and alter Florida State's game plan.

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"Field position was big in that game," Podlesh said. "They got in a hole they couldn't get out. And when that happens, it changes the plays they are going to call."

Sam Hollenbach may have thrown for three touchdowns and Jeremy Navarre may have made the big defensive plays for the Terps, but Podlesh did his part to help prove why his position is part of the special teams.

"Special teams are the reason we won that game," coach Ralph Friedgen said. "Adam Podlesh kicked into the wind to establish field position. Dan Ennis hit his field goals. And Danny Oquendo made some returns to help us get field position. More than half of our points were created out of the kicking game."

For the record, Podlesh had five kicks for 224 yards for a 44.8-yard average. The strong prevailing wind played tug-o'-war with his distance. Two of the kicks went for touchbacks while the other three started the Seminoles' offense at the 15, 16 and 23.

After Podlesh punts, Florida State had an average starting point of its own 18.8-yard line. And considering Seminoles quarterback Xavier Lee was making his first start, the shadow of the goalpost eliminated the majority of his comfort zone.

"One of the big things we talk about and stress is field position," Podlesh said. "In the second quarter, it was a battle back and forth. If it continues, anything can happen. It's a matter of which team is more consistent."

As a punter, Podlesh doesn't usually get much attention, unless it's for something that went awry.

Yet, he realizes that he is part of something that is beginning to capture the imagination of Maryland fans.

"Praise means more coming from your teammates," he said. "We need to come in and perform consistently and not get sidetracked by anything that is happening on or off the field."

The excitement of winning has reached the Maryland campus.

On Saturday, there was a sign hanging that proclaimed, "Podlesh for Heisman."

"After the game, a couple of students came out of the stands, wearing black shirts and their faces all blacked out," Podlesh said. "They told me they made the sign. I have never felt the energy like there has been this year. I have to keep trying to stay calm and consistent."

But Podlesh admits, he wouldn't mind putting his signature on another big season for the Terps.

"This is something," he said. "I got the feeling. The feeling is good but it's not about the six wins. It makes you want to focus more. The older guys remember what it felt like to get to the Gator Bowl. We want to get that one more time, especially as seniors."

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