- The Washington Times - Monday, September 17, 2001

Ralph Friedgen knew things were not back to normal when he took a break from game planning to go out for a meal.
"I went out to dinner with my wife [Saturday] night in D.C.," the Maryland football coach said. "We were the only two people in the restaurant. I guess people were afraid to go down there. That's a little eerie."
Similar to everywhere else, things have been bizarre for the Terrapins since Tuesday's tragic events. Several players, for example, waited anxiously to hear about relatives who worked in either the World Trade Center or the Pentagon during the plane crashes. Fortunately, none of those relatives was injured. On a comparatively trivial scale, the Terps' home game with West Virginia scheduled for Saturday was postponed until Sept. 29. All Division I football games were scrapped in light of the horrific week.
The team returns to practice tonight in preparation for Saturday's game at Wake Forest. Maryland was off to a spectacular start this season with a 2-0 record while outscoring opponents 73-10 before the sobering dose of reality did what no opponent could stop it cold.
"I gave the kids off Friday and Saturday so they could be home with their parents," said Friedgen, who learned of the cancellation late Wednesday afternoon. "I think they were disappointed they didn't play. It's hard to prepare as hard as they did all week and then at the last minute tell them, 'Look fellas, we're not playing.' When I look back at it, it was probably the right decision. The more things go on, the way I see it, the more incredible it is. And I don't see it going away any time soon."
Friedgen is not sure how the team will react coming off such an emotional weekend but suspects the overall character he's seen to this point will keep the group moving in a positive direction. The Terps went through a 1?-hour practice on Thursday knowing they had no game that weekend. Maryland faces a rejuvenated group in its first road game of the season when it visits the Demon Deacons, who also are 2-0, including an upset of East Carolina.
"Hopefully, we haven't lost any of the momentum we had, because I thought we had good momentum," Friedgen said. "I really do think when the kids practiced [last week], they forgot about it. I was surprised at how well they practiced. So I think there is a cathartic process going on there where their minds are off it for a while and they are concentrating on the task at hand."
Like most Americans, the coach had a trying week. One of his daughters flew home from England last Monday, but Friedgen was momentarily anxious because the busy coach was not aware of the exact day of her arrival until speaking with his wife after the terrorists' attacks. As soon as he heard of Tuesday's events, he called his wife to take his two youngest children out of school.
The Maryland coaching staff spent the weekend analyzing video and planning for Georgia Tech, who the Terps won't meet until Thursday, Oct. 11. The coaches had hoped to use their open week now filled by the rescheduled West Virginia game to do some advance scouting on the Yellow Jackets, who the Terps face only five days after Maryland's Oct. 6 game with Virginia. However, Friedgen admits it has been difficult to concentrate on football the last few days.
"We talk and say, 'We can't believe it's all happening,' " he said. "It's a tragedy and it's a crisis, and yet you have to do your job. It's a distraction for everybody."
A distraction the coach hopes can be put aside on the field this week and not get in the way of a promising season. Friedgen owns a master's degree in sports psychology but doesn't know how that will help his team mend in this unprecedented situation.
"Our kids have never experienced something like this," Friedgen said. "I don't know if the longer [the aftermath] goes on it gets worse or whatever. We'll have to see."
Note Saturday's Wake Forest-Maryland game will start at 3:30 p.m. and will not be televised. The rescheduled West Virginia-Maryland game will start at noon and also will not be on television.

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