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Friedgen - 'I'm going to get this thing right'

November 07, 2007|By BOB PARASILITI

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - "It's not the size of the turtle in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the turtle."

OK, that's not exactly the way Mark Twain wrote it, but the revamped quote probably best summarizes the feelings of University of Maryland football coach Ralph Friedgen. So much so, it brings out his emotions and an emphatic promise.

"I'm not going to back down and I'm not going to stop working," said Friedgen, with more emotion pouring out with each word Tuesday during his weekly media conference. "I'm not down, I'm motivated. I'm going to get this thing right. We are going to win football games at Maryland."

That has become increasingly difficult to do over the last few weeks.

Friedgen has watched what had been the makings of a promising season turn into a mere - well - shell of itself as the Terrapins have had to deal with injuries and an onslaught of inexperienced players in the lineup because of those injuries.

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Because of that, the Terps stand at 4-5 for the season, including the present three-game Atlantic Coast Conference losing streak, and sit in last place in the Atlantic Division. High hopes are being turned in for corks to spring the leaks on the sinking championship ship.

Now all efforts are being pointed at salvaging the season by becoming bowl eligible. It starts this weekend when the Terrapins host No. 8 Boston College in a regionally televised game. They follow by closing the season at Florida State and North Carolina State, two improving teams which could keep Maryland from winning the required six games to become bowl eligible.

The Terps' woes can be traced to two major factors, one physical and the other technical.

The injuries have been the underlying story in the fortunes of the Terps this season. Maryland has played without six offensive starters and one reserve for the majority of the season. Starting quarterback Jordan Steffy (concussion), fullback Cory Jackson (broken hand) and tight end Dan Gronkowski (knee) have been missing from the skilled positions while guards Andrew Crummey and Jaimie Thomas (broken legs) and tackle Scott Burley (various injuries) have been missing. Freshman Bruce Campbell, who has replaced Burley, is suffering from an ankle injury.

The missing players have hampered the Terps' game plans. Maryland has a strong running tandem in Keon Lattimore and Lance Ball, but their effectiveness had been diminished.

"When you start looking at the point of attack, we lost two guards who are probably two of the best in the conference," Friedgen said. "Jackson has a broken hand and was a lead blocker and Gronkowski was a good blocker at tight end. We're sure not as good as we were and if we had them, we'd be right in the middle of this thing."

On the technical side, Maryland hasn't shown continuity with the offense to be considered efficient.

"The only thing on the field I don't like is the consistency," Friedgen said. "There are times we played well, but then we kind of lose focus - in the same game, sometimes in the next series.

"We have to get through that. Sometimes it's maturity and sometimes it's confidence. We had trouble at North Carolina and then we were down 16-3 and came out and moved the ball like we should. That's the part that frustrates me."

If frustrates the Maryland players too.

"Last week (the 16-13 loss to North Carolina) was so frustrating," said tight end Joey Haynos. "We came out and moved the football for first downs and then we would shoot ourselves in the foot with penalties and mistakes. We are so close."

Friedgen is convinced that healthy players and more work will put the Terrapins in the middle of the bowl picture.

"We have had some bad luck," Friedgen said. "Maybe it's time for that to change. I'm a guy who believes you make your own luck. I believe that. If you don't work, you won't get any better."

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