- The Washington Times - Friday, December 28, 2001

MIAMI Maryland tailback Bruce Perry pulled an abdominal muscle yesterday while practicing for the Orange Bowl, and his status could be in jeopardy for the Jan. 2 game. Perry, the ACC's Offensive Player of the Year, re-aggravated a strain first suffered in practice last week.
"It was a little thing that happened last week, and then we rested him," Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen said. "He came out [Tuesday] and had a real good practice. And then [Wednesday] he just ran around the end. He didn't even get tackled on the play. E.J. [Henderson] held him up. He felt a pull … From what I saw today, I'm concerned."
Perry's injury came during a physical practice that also saw starting guard Todd Wike carted off the field with a foot injury. X-rays done on the All-ACC lineman's right foot proved negative.
Perry's absence would be a crushing blow to the sixth-ranked Terrapins, who are already 16-point underdogs to No. 5 Florida. ACC champion Maryland arrived in South Florida on Tuesday to prepare for its first bowl since 1990 and first New Year's game in a quarter-century.
The 5-foot-9, 190-pound Perry has had a sensational season while fighting nagging injuries to his shoulder and hamstring. The sophomore rushed for a league-high 1,242 yards and was the team's second-leading receiver with 40 catches for 359 yards. He first felt a strain in his stomach during practice last week.
"Bruce had problems with this back in College Park," Friedgen said. "It wasn't real severe. Today it seemed much more severe than what it was. But we'll have to see."
The good news is the Orange Bowl is still five days away.
It was also a bad day for one of Perry's key blockers as Wike wasn't able to finish the practice session either. The 6-foot-3, 295-pound junior walked in a medical boot when he left the Barry University practice field.
"[Center] Melvin [Fowler] stepped on my foot," said Wike, who has made 26 consecutive starts through an array of minor injuries. "The same thing happened yesterday, and it swelled up. After the swelling goes down, I should be all right."
Redshirt freshman Kyle Schmitt would start if Wike can't play. Senior Marc Riley and freshman Jason Crawford could play tailback if Perry is out.
The latest injuries came as the Terps were hoping to get healthy at several other spots. Reserve offensive tackle Lou Lombardo spent time in the hospital over Christmas with a foot infection. The 6-6, 301-pound redshirt freshman is not practicing after playing in all 11 regular-season games.
Tony Jackson is still "gimpy," according to Friedgen, after suffering a sprained right ankle last week. The All-ACC safety is working out with the starting unit, and the coach said he is about 80 percent recovered.
The rash of injuries comes after the Terps remained unusually healthy during their 10-1 season, with few starters missing games. Cornerback Tony Okanlawon sat out four games with an undisclosed medical condition, but no other starter has missed several. Wide receiver Steve Suter (broken finger) and linebacker Andrew Henley (broken leg) were the only top reserves lost. Suter has healed and will dress for the game.
But the team now must anxiously await word on Perry, who has been surprisingly resilient for his compact size. For now, the Terps are waiting and hoping as they deal with uncertainty.
"Hopefully, we'll have all our players for the game," Friedgen said. "I don't know. We'll have to see tomorrow how these guys come back."

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