- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 22, 2001

Like everyone else, the Maryland football team has been distracted and disturbed since the terrorist attacks last week. Now, however, the Terrapins are eager to resume play this afternoon at Wake Forest after last week's game was canceled in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 tragedies.

"I think it will be pretty emotional," Maryland quarterback Shaun Hill said. "I know hearing 'The Star-Spangled Banner,' and things like that are going to mean more than it has… . We've got all these problems and possibly sending troops overseas. Here we're out having an opportunity to have fun. It should be inspirational for us to go out and lay it all on the line."

Hill said this week "has been as normal as you can expect under the circumstances" as the Terps prepared to face the Demon Deacons (2-0, 0-0 ACC) at Groves Stadium in Winston Salem, N.C., their first road game under coach Ralph Friedgen. Victims of last week's attacks will be honored with a moment of silence before the game.

Wake Forest, which won two games all of last year, upset East Carolina in its season opener. Maryland (2-0, 1-0) finds itself a touchdown favorite against the traditional league lightweight.

The Terps, who defeated North Carolina 23-7 in the season opener, are seeking their first 2-0 start in the ACC since 1995. Maryland stomped Eastern Michigan 50-3 in its second game.

The offensive has been impressive, but it has been the defense that has led the way, allowing just 200 yards a game. The unit has not allowed a touchdown in seven quarters.

Outside linebacker Aaron Thompson has tried to stay focused on the task at hand, but he admits it has been virtually impossible to forget the nation's troubles.

"It affects everybody," Thompson said. "With us being just 20 minutes away from D.C., it could have easily hit somewhere over here. Sometimes when you're practicing, you'll hear a fighter jet or a plane go over, and it reminds you what's going on in the world outside of football."

Thompson plans to use that helpless feeling and today's pregame ceremonies as motivation. He sees a higher sense of urgency to perform than he did just a few weeks ago.

"Just to see them honor the people who died makes you appreciate that much more how blessed you are," Thompson said. "We are not promised tomorrow. If anything, it will have me wired. It could be my last game. I never know. We're going to be ready. We're going to go out and have a blast."

Friedgen often has the television on in his office to monitor events and now listens to news on his ride home rather music. However, he has seen little to suggest the circumstances are taking a toll on his players during practice, although "we probably missed more assignments this week than we normally do. I don't know if that's the reason."

The coach is looking forward to an afternoon of just football. Reality will re-invade the team's psyche soon after it leaves the gridiron.

"When it comes to football, I'm all football," Thompson said. "I guess the game is our back door to what's going on. That's how we escape the tragedy of the world for a little while."

,b.Notes ,/b. As of yesterday, Friedgen had not announced a starting kicker. It could be a game-time decision. Freshman Nick Novak opened the season as the starter but missed all four of his field goal attempts. Siljkovic, a senior, made a 44-yarder against Eastern Michigan in his only try… . Junior Brooks Barnard leads the nation in punting with a 49.5-yard average… .

Friedgen could become the third Maryland coach to start his first season with a 3-0 record, joining Bear Bryant (1945) and Jim Tatum (1947) … Tickets from the rescheduled game with West Virginia can be used for next Saturday or returned for a refund.

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