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Rested Terps ready for tough stretch ahead
COLLEGE PARK, Md. | Rested and healthy after a perfectly timed bye week, Maryland is ready to tackle the most imposing stretch on its schedule: four road games in five weeks, starting with a trip to Death Valley.
After a 21-16 victory over Duke on Oct. 2, coach Ralph Friedgen and his players had an extra week to reflect upon their solid start and prepare for a stretch run, starting at Clemson (2-3, 0-2) on Saturday.
With four wins, the Terrapins (4-1, 1-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) already have twice as many wins as last season.
“Going into the off-week with a win and being 4-1 leaves a good taste in your mouth,” Friedgen said Tuesday. “It’s more how we won the games than anything else. The Duke game was a gutsy performance. Florida International also, where we had to hang in there and really persevere to win (42-28). We might have lost those games last year.
“I’m hoping that’s building our confidence,” he added. “I think a game we need is one like this one coming up. To play in a great atmosphere against a really good team would really help the growth of our football team.”
The Terps have won two straight at Clemson, but in its only road game this season, Maryland got blown out Sept. 18 at West Virginia. If the Terrapins are to make some noise in the ACC and earn a bowl bid, winning on the road is a must.
“No doubt about it. If we’re going to have a good football team, it’s something we have to be able to do,” Friedgen said. “It’s really the next thing that has to happen. How we’re going to far is definitely going to (depend upon) how we play on the road.”
After facing Clemson, Maryland travels to Boston College. Then, after a home game against Wake Forest, the Terrapins play at Miami and Virginia.
Clemson had its bye week on Sept. 25, then returned to lose to Miami and North Carolina. Saturday’s game will match the desperate Tigers, losers of three in a row, against the rested Terrapins.
“Maryland is a 4-1 team playing with a lot of confidence and coming off an open date, so it’s another big challenge for us,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. “(The bye is) certainly an advantage. You have an opportunity to scheme up a few things more than you would.”
Which may or may not make a difference on Saturday.
“Football is still football, whether you played last Saturday or not,” Tigers left tackle Chris Hairston said. “I feel like they may have a little more time to prepare, which is great, but they still have to execute out on the field.”
The Terrapins desperately needed a break — mentally and physically — after playing a grueling stretch that began Sept. 6 with a harrowing 17-14 win at Navy and ended with the Oct. 2 comeback win over Duke.
“The bye was perfect,” linebacker Demetrius Hartsfield said. “We had some of our starters banged up and a lot of guys weren’t 100 percent fresh. It’s helped us a lot.”
During the break, quarterback Jamarr Robinson rested his sore shoulder following a two-game absence. Maryland’s other quarterback, redshirt freshman Danny O’Brien, used the time off to allow his sprained ankle to heal.
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