The Washington Times - September 5, 2008, 09:53AM

A common theme throughout camp was Maryland‘s quality depth and how some guys who might not normally play could be used on special teams.

With the first road game of the season upon us, I wondered if Ralph Friedgen was taking a larger traveling party than in the past.


Not so much, says he.

“It was a problem,” Friedgen said. “What’s hurt us in the travel roster is we’re probably traveling with smaller planes because of the fuel crisis. I probably could take more kids, but then they’re going to be uncomfortable. I usually like to leave a seat between those linemen. We travel with 72, so we had to make some decisions today based on how many teams [they’re on].”

Things that made Ralph’s decisions more difficult. He had to take a backup long snapper. He had to take a backup punter. Of course, last year the Terps had two long snappers who played, and had a kicker, punter and kickoff specialist who could dabble in other areas if need be.

Still, two of the guys on the trip (snapper Tim Downs and punter Ted Townsley) are there in case of catastrophe and little else.

“It’s tough trimming it down, not only to fill your special teams, but all your depth on the special teams and your depth on the regular team, too,” Friedgen said. That was more difficult than in the past.”

Ralph also got underway a little earlier as well today. The Terps were supposed to hit the road at 9:30 a.m. rather than a more typical mid-day departure.

And, yes, there’s a reason for that, too.

“We’re not allowed to walk through here anymore because they won’t excuse our kids from class,” Friedgen said. “What I have to do is leave early and have a walk-through at Middle Tennessee. They’re still getting excused from the same class. It’s just makes my life a lot more difficult.”

First of all, who takes Friday classes anymore? Since athletes do get priority for signing up for class, wouldn’t you think there would be an impetus for those teams whose travel is Friday- and Saturday-heavy to avoid going to class on Friday.

Second, while Ralph has grumbled about academic conflicts (remember, his starting quarterback this year had to miss Tuesdays last spring to take a class only available at that time), he has a decent point here.

It’s six one way and a half-dozen the other: His players are going to miss whatever Friday morning class they’re signed up for. Why not just accept that and move on?

Long story short: The Terps should be in the air shortly. A walk-through awaits in Murfreesboro.

—- Patrick Stevens