- The Washington Times - Monday, August 4, 2003

Maryland quarterback Scott McBrien threw a quick strike to Jafar Williams, a medium-range slant to Derrick Fenner and a dump-off to Rich Parson. The Terrapins are trying to turn defenders into bobbleheads.

The No.13 Terps began camp yesterday trying to upgrade an offense for their Aug.28 opener at Northern Illinois. They are no longer struggling to learn coach Ralph Friedgen’s system. The coach’s challenge is picking a lineup that probably will rotate at receiver, running back and tight end throughout the season.

“One of the big differences from our past teams is that there’s a lot more players competing for jobs than when I got here, when whoever was lining up was playing,” Friedgen said.

The receivers are nine deep. Four running backs and three tight ends are competing for snaps. Indeed, such depth makes keeping players selfless Friedgen’s biggest task after two upbeat seasons. Suddenly, after 10- and 11-win seasons respectively, winning is not unexpected. These days, they have to do it in style.

“We’ve gone from ‘we can make it to a bowl’ to ‘what kind of bowl can we make?’” senior running back Bruce Perry said.

Friedgen worries that players may start wanting bigger individual stats, which won’t be easy given the team’s depth and diverse offense. He’s trying to continue their team-first mentality.

“With more winning, people become selfish,” Friedgen said. “Am I getting enough carries? Am I getting thrown the ball enough? What’s my pro status?”

McBrien is among the ACC’s eight returning passers who promises to increase ACC scoring this season. Perry tries to rebound from an injury-plagued season to regain his 2001 ACC Offensive Player of the Year level. The Terps easily could become a ball-control offense, but Friedgen’s penchant for passing and big plays may lead to Maryland eclipsing’s last year’s school-record 451 points.

“We had a record-setting offense, and this one is better,” Perry said.

McBrien’s return fuels the team’s optimism for a quick start that includes a showdown at Florida State on Sept.6. The Terps struggled early during Friedgen’s first two years before becoming comfortable with the system by midseason. McBrien’s second season should provide a quick start. He appeared comfortable during drills, throwing to anticipated spots during the first practice. There was only one delay penalty during drills with the clock.

“It’s all about repetitions,” McBrien said. “It gives you confidence.”

Certainly, there’s a growing confidence among the Terps following their first postseason victory in 12 years, a 30-3 bashing of Tennessee in the Peach Bowl. However, Friedgen is tempering the enthusiasm while preaching hard work.

“We’re not where we need to be to make a run at the national championship,” he said. “When you play two walk-ons in a bowl game, you’re not where you want to be.”

Notes — Defensive end Randy Earle withdrew from Maryland to return to New York for personal reasons. Freshman defensive tackle Dre Moore replaces Earle after not being expected in school until January. … Defensive tackle Robert Armstrong left practice with a heat-related illness. Last year 17 players missed part of the first workout. …

Maryland will practice in soft shells for the first four days before donning full pads on Friday. … Friedgen used a golf cart at times while continuing to recuperate from a hip replacement. … Maryland’s schedule has six night games, with the rest undetermined. Maryland has three Thursday 7:30p.m. games against Northern Illinois, Georgia Tech (Oct.23) and Virginia (Nov.13). The home opener against The Citadel (Sept.13) is at 6p.m. with road games against Florida State at 7:15p.m. and Eastern Michigan at 6p.m. on Sept.27.

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