- The Washington Times - Friday, September 26, 2008

Senior wideouts Danny Oquendo and Isaiah Williams remain linked through their Maryland careers, a pair of New Jersey products who have started since their sophomore years.

Oquendo’s 43-yard touchdown strike to an open Williams against Eastern Michigan on Saturday connected them even more.

“Oh man, me and Danny are trying to get that play on tape somewhere so down the line we can show our kids,” Williams said.

So too would Maryland fans who grew unaccustomed to such razzle-dazzle in recent years, even if it remained in the playbook all along. A little more trickery might be welcome Saturday, when the Terps (3-1) visit No. 20 Clemson (3-1, 1-0 ACC).

The Terps’ Thursday pre-practice work in recent years included walkthroughs of trick plays, and the left-handed Oquendo’s opportunity to pass was usually included. Oquendo, who was a quarterback when he was much younger, had not completed a throw since his senior year of high school.

That changed Saturday when offensive coordinator James Franklin called for a game-clinching play with a 37-24 lead. Wideout Darrius Heyward-Bey took a handoff and flipped it to Oquendo, who found the gullible defense had started to converge upon Heyward-Bey.

“Since I’ve been here we’ve always held something where I’d go out and throw a touchdown pass,” Oquendo said. “For one reason or another, we haven’t called it. Either they didn’t need it or weren’t gutsy enough. Franklin just said, ‘You know what, forget it. Just do it.’ And it worked.”

It’s also a sign of the offense’s changes under Franklin. A nonquarterback threw for only one touchdown pass in coach Ralph Friedgen’s first seven seasons, and Franklin’s willingness to open the playbook is influencing the way his players view the offense.

On several occasions in the last two weeks, calls in the huddle were met with certainty a touchdown would result. It didn’t always happen, but the expectation of big plays is a welcome development. Maryland has 31 plays of at least 16 yards through four games; last year it had 16 at this point of the season.

As a result, the Terps’ repeated claims they can score 50 points in any game seem a little more plausible.

“I think we definitely could have last year, but it really wasn’t instilled in us,” Oquendo said. “We really just did what we had to do to win. Now I think everyone really agrees that we can definitely do that.”

Notes — Friedgen said safety Terrell Skinner sat out Thursday after practicing the last three days. He remains likely to play after missing the last two games with a high ankle sprain. … Cornerback Nolan Carroll is listed as out on the team’s inury report. … Defensive tackle Travis Ivey (broken foot) and safety Drew Robinson (shoulder) probably will play. …

Quarterback Jordan Steffy (fractured thumb) remains at least two weeks away from returning, meaning he would be available no earlier than the Oct. 18 game against Wake Forest.