The Washington Times - September 9, 2008, 05:10PM

Ralph Friedgen is in a bit of bind right now, and there’s no way he’s going to make a choice that will pacify a large portion of his many constituencies.

He can either make wholesale changes to his team after Saturday’s 24-14 loss to Middle Tennessee. Or he can stick with the status quo and hope with a little prodding things get a lot better.

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Do the former, and risk frustrating players who have had two weeks to sort things out. Do the latter, and it leaves people wondering just what the heck you’re doing to fix some glaring issues.

Friedgen floated the trial balloon on Sunday of shuffling the deck a bit, but backed off this afternoon.

“I talked about it,” Friedgen said. “I actually had a few kids in and felt like now isn’t the right time to do it, but I told them we have to start playing better or we will make some changes. When I thought about it, I didn’t know if that would be more upsetting. … In the past, when I’ve done that they’ve responded, and I’m hoping that will be the case.”

He probably is making the right move. Make sweeping changes now, and it looks like a knee-jerk reaction. It’s probably too early to press the panic button, though another clunker on Saturday would probably provide the justification to do things differently.

The one obvious personnel adjustment that will be made is shifting Antwine Perez into a starting role at free safety in place of the injured (and, for the first two games, highly effective) Terrell Skinner. That comes with its own risk.

Skinner is an impressive run defender, an athletic guy who can make more of a difference close to the line of scrimmage than many of the safeties who have floated through College Park in the last few years. That isn’t the strength of either Perez or Jamari McCollough, who will back up Perez as Skinner heals from a high ankle sprain.

“I think Jamari will help us in the coverage element,” Friedgen said. “What Jamari has to do is do a good job of supporting the run. Same thing with Antwine. That’s a concern.”

Patrick Stevens