- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 25, 2007

Maryland will face seven teams that appeared in bowl games next fall, including a Thursday night meeting with West Virginia in the season’s third week to start a stretch that will place an onus on the Terrapins to have their quarterback situation settled early in the season.

The Terps, who went 9-4 and defeated Purdue in the Champs Sports Bowl last year, also will visit defending ACC champion Wake Forest and Rutgers by the end of September and will open October with a visit from Coastal Division winner Georgia Tech.

The Terps’ season opener is Sept. 1 against Villanova, the fourth time in six years Maryland will face a Division I-AA team.

Maryland returned to the postseason for the first time in three years behind quarterback Sam Hollenbach, whose steadiness was vital as the Terps won five straight games by a combined 13 points in the middle of the season.

Hollenbach’s departure leaves an obvious hole for the Terps. Rising junior Jordan Steffy took only 14 snaps last season — all in the season opener — and redshirted the year before. Meanwhile, Josh Portis is eligible after sitting out a year after transferring, and the former Florida quarterback likely will be Steffy’s top competition.

Coach Ralph Friedgen said this month “it’s Jordan’s job to lose,” but the four-week stretch early in the season could be unforgiving for whomever earns the position. West Virginia, which ripped the Terps 45-24 last year, returns quarterback Pat White and tailback Steve Slaton in the teams’ final scheduled meeting before at least a two-year hiatus.

Maryland plays all three of its October games at home but must finish with three of its last four on the road. The Terps’ home finale is Nov. 10 against Boston College, which precedes trips to Florida State (Nov. 17) and N.C. State (Nov. 24) to finish the season.

Meanwhile, Virginia Tech will visit Louisiana State on Sept. 8 in what could prove to be one of the country’s most glamorous intersectional games. The Hokies (11-2 last season) also will play consecutive Thursday night games to open a compelling stretch that also includes visits from Florida State and Miami.

Virginia, which went 5-7 last fall while enduring its first losing season since 2001, opens Sept. 1 at Wyoming. The Cavaliers then play host to Duke before visiting North Carolina on Sept. 15 in the Tar Heels’ first ACC game under Butch Davis.

The Cavaliers are also the conference’s only team to have its open date in November. Virginia will play the first 11 weeks, then have two weeks to prepare for a season-ending meeting with Virginia Tech in Charlottesville.

Note — Safety Antwine Perez, a transfer from Southern California, began classes yesterday at Maryland, a school spokesman confirmed. Perez, a high school All-American in 2005, will not be eligible next season but will have three years of eligibility remaining. The spokesman also said punter Travis Baltz has enrolled early.

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