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Terps need senior moments to be memorable

October 17, 2008|By BOB PARASILITI

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- Mack Frost is hoping the University of Maryland football team has some senior moments.

In fact, the Terrapins defensive lineman wants his team to have more of them than Wake Forest has on Saturday.

No, not the ones that are characterized as lapses of memory that are attributed to advancing age. In Maryland's case, those moments would be a good thing against the No. 21 Demon Deacons.

"This game will come down to who makes less mistakes and who has the better seniors," Frost said during Maryland's weekly media conference Tuesday.

"Maryland and Wake will be fielding two of the most experienced teams in the Atlantic Coast Conference when they meet Saturday at noon. Each hopes that will be the formula to get to the Atlantic Division title and a berth in the ACC championship game.

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The problem is: Only one of them -- if either -- will qualify.

This game will pit Maryland's 15 senior starters against Wake's 13 senior starters and 10 redshirt junior starters (which can be considered seniors academically) for the right to hold the upperhand in the chase.

Wake enters the game at 4-1 and an important 2-0 in the ACC, while Maryland is 4-2 and 1-1. A loss would put Maryland two games back in the Atlantic Division, a tough hole to fill, with five league games to play.

"We need this one to get back in it," said Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen said. "I told (the players) that this is a six-game tournament. The team that wins the most games from here on out will probably win the division. You have to win the division first to win the championship game."

The problem compounds for Maryland, which follows this game with North Carolina State at home, Virginia Tech on the road and North Carolina and Florida State both at home, before finishing at Boston College on Nov. 29.

At the worst, the Terps need two wins to become bowl eligible, but their expectations are higher. Maryland desperately needs to win this game, especially after laying a 31-0 goose egg at Virginia two weeks ago.

"We just lost," Frost said. "That can seem like a confidence shaker but we lost to Middle Tennessee and we came back and beat California. This is an important game because we have to get back to playing Maryland football."

And it will may well come down to a battle of seniors and experience. That has become the trademark of Wake Forest under coach Jim Grobe.

"I think Coach Grobe has had a plan," Friedgen said. "I think what he does is redshirt his players and keeps them in school. I heard a comment on TV the other day that unless a player will play 25 plays or more as a true freshman, he decides to redshirt them. I think that has really helped them in building experience and maturity to their team."

It has made Wake a different team and changed the landscape of the ACC. The Deacons used to be a rest stop on the ACC trail. Now, they are formidable, winning the ACC title in 2006, complete with a trip to the Orange Bowl. Wake knocked off Maryland in the regular-season finale at Byrd Stadium to win that right and take the title opportunity from the Terps.

This time, it's earlier in the season, but a loss could do the same thing.

"They don't make any mistakes and they are a physical football team," Frost said. "We have to be more perfect than they are."

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