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Terps hope to learn from the past

September 19, 2007|By BOB PARASILITI

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - In football, like life, advancement comes down to learning from mistakes.

The University of Maryland football team will be calling on a wide range of game experiences Saturday when it faces Wake Forest in its first Atlantic Coast Conference game of the season.

The Terps will look to get things right by drawing from last week's 31-14 loss to No. 5 West Virginia as well as last season's disappointing 38-24 loss to Wake in what ended up becoming the deciding game in the ACC Atlantic Division, sending the Demon Deacons to the ACC Championship Game and, ultimately, the Orange Bowl.

"There are similarities between (West Virginia and Wake Forest)," Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen said Tuesday during his weekly media conference. "We obviously have to be better because there will be some carryover (from WVU to Wake)."

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Not all mistakes are bad, though. They just prevented the Terps from winning against WVU.

Friedgen said he had watched the tape from last Thursday's nationally televised game and was happy with the effort the Terps showed against the Mountaineers. It was a sack here and a penalty and missed tackle there that made most of the difference in the game.

"I'm not discouraged from last week. I thought our kids played with everything they had," Friedgen said. "It's hard to say when you get beat, but right till the very end, I never saw us let up at all. We played with our hearts. When they do that, then that's all I can ask for. You take five plays out - and I know you can't do that - but those five plays accounted for 70 percent of their offense."

WVU had seven plays which accounted for 237 of its 448 yards against Maryland. The key element in each case was the Mountaineers' speed once they broke into the open field. It was the same element that hurt Maryland in last season's loss to Wake Forest, which used sweeps to beat the Terps to the corners.

"There were a couple of plays we didn't make that turned into long gains," defensive lineman Mack Frost said about the WVU game. "It didn't have a direct effect on the scoreboard, but they changed the game. Playing WVU is going to help us a lot this week. It helped us to see the speed of the offense because that is the kind of thing that is tough to see in practice."

Wake Forest has a lot of speed in the backfield, and it punished Maryland last season. Kenneth Moore ran for 166 yards and a touchdown and Kevin Harris added two scores in the loss, mainly using misdirection runs that went to the outside of the Maryland defense. It was a mistake the Terps couldn't correct.

"They moved the ball well on us last year," Friedgen said. "They attacked our flanks pretty good and got outside of us. They have very good team speed. We have to try to keep them contained and keep them from getting outside. They use a lot of misdirection, a lot of speed, reverses and bootlegs.

"They stretch the field very much like West Virginia does. They make you play the whole 53 yards. They do a really good job of coaching some unorthodox things you usually don't see. They're very innovative in a lot of things they do."

What adds to the importance of getting it right for the Terps is the fact that Wake represents the first ACC game that is not only against the team that kept them out of last year's championship, but a game which could have a large bearing on what happens this season.

Boston College is already 3-0 in the Atlantic Division, with one of the wins coming at Wake's expense. Now, it's time for Maryland to jump into the pool.

"I think they're pretty high. Boston College right now is 3-0 in the league, and you want to keep pace," Friedgen said. "The winner of this game is going to keep pace. For us it would be great to be able to get a win on the road against a great team, the defending ACC champs. It would do wonders for our confidence.

"I think this is an important game in the season for us, no question about it. This is going to be a very tough test for us on the road. I've always said, how you do in the league really depends on how you play away from home. I think we're ready. We've had three games and its going to come hot and heavy here very shortly. We have our work cut out for us the rest of the way."

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