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Friedgen on the clock to pick his QB

August 07, 2007|By BOB PARASILITI

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Ralph Friedgen put the NFL Draft on a personal level.

He put himself on the clock, but it's not to select in the first round.

It's a self-imposed deadline the University of Maryland football coach has set to pick his starting quarterback for the 2007 season.

"I'm not going to take long ... at least a week, maybe a little bit more," Friedgen warned during his news conference Monday at the annual Maryland media day at Byrd Stadium. "I'm anxious to see them practice and see how they did during the summer. But we have to start focusing in on who's the No. 1 guy."

Friedgen and the Terrapins, who are picked to finish fifth in the Atlantic Coast Conference's six-team Atlantic Division, are at square one again. It's time to pick a quarterback.

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Will it be Jordan Steffy or Josh Portis who will get the call to start when the Terps open the season Sept. 1 against Villanova?

It's anyone's guess. It was so uncertain, neither player was pictured on the cover of Maryland's media guide.

The problem is, no matter who gets the call to replace two-year starter Sam Hollenbach, he will have little or no game experience.

Steffy has been with the program for three years heading into his redshirt junior season with minimal time behind center. Portis has all the tools to be an exciting player, but he is still learning Friedgen's complicated offense after transferring from Florida.

Just being on the top of the system's pecking order places Steffy on the top of the depth chart ... for now.

"I feel good about our talent," Friedgen said. "We just don't have the experience that we would like to have. I feel like once we get that experience, I'll feel pretty good about our quarterback situation."

The bulk of Steffy's experience comes from the sideline, where he signaled plays in to Hollenbach for the last two seasons. Even in that role, Friedgen sees where Steffy should get first shot at claiming the job.

"I've really seen him mature as a person," Friedgen said. "He's much more serious academically than when he first came here. He's very confident in his ability, not only as a football player but as a student and a person. I think he's ready for this challenge. The one thing I feel confident about, especially with Jordan, is he knows what to do."

But it will be Steffy's maturity up against Portis' agility.

"It's realistic to say (Portis) could start," Friedgen said.

"I'm not opposed to playing two quarterbacks," the coach said. "(Portis) will have to do the little things better, like his footwork and his timing on throws, and he has to get more familiar with the offense. He has that ability to make a good play out of a bad one and that's big."

Steffy's stats in his first two years of playing are anything but impressive - 12-for-37 passing for 132 yards with two interceptions and no touchdowns to go along with minus-31 yards rushing.

No matter who starts, Maryland's offense will have a different look. Both players are more mobile than Hollenbach, which could open up the Terps' offense even more.

"I think we have enough good players at quarterback," Friedgen said. "Once we get this figured out, I feel confident in our quarterback situation for a long time."

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