- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 29, 2001

MIAMI Bruce Perry's status didn't change yesterday as Maryland's star tailback sat out practice a day after suffering a pulled abdominal muscle. The ACC Offensive Player of the Year is considered "day-to-day," and his coach reiterated that his availability for Wednesday night's Orange Bowl is in question.
"Right now, I don't know if he's going to play," Ralph Friedgen said. "If he doesn't practice, he doesn't play. I can tell you that."
Although Friedgen showed concern, Perry is expected to heal enough to play when the sixth-ranked Terrapins meet No. 5 Florida in Pro Player Stadium. Perry, who was not available to the media yesterday by Friedgen's order, told the coach he felt a pull in his stomach while cutting around a corner in Thursday's practice. The latest incident aggravated a stomach injury originally suffered last week.
"There hasn't been any swelling," Friedgen said. "It is probably [a question of] just how much he can bear the pain. He's got an abdomen strain, and it hurts when he turns. We'll let it quiet down and see how it goes."
Otherwise, the injury news was good for the Terps as starting left guard Todd Wike is expected to play after having his right foot stepped on Thursday, but he did not suffer a fracture. Reserve lineman Lou Lombardo practiced for the first time in Florida after suffering a foot ailment.
Friedgen and the Terps participated in the first official Orange Bowl functions yesterday. The three captains Shaun Hill, Aaron Thompson and Rod Littles visited a children's hospital in the morning after Friedgen attended a Fellowship of Christian Athletes breakfast.
The coach held his first formal news conference at a beachfront hotel and immediately was reminded of Maryland's anonymous nature in such a showcase bowl game. His name tag read "Ralph Friedgen, University of Florida." Someone crossed out "Florida" by hand and wrote "Maryland Terrapins" in ink.
"It's just about what I expected," said Friedgen, who chuckled and shook his head when he saw the corrected tag. "I can't worry about things I can't control. We just have to go out and play the game as best as we can."
Friedgen even worked in a bit of gamesmanship when talking about who might play if Perry is unavailable. Senior Marc Riley and freshman Jason Crawford would likely share tailback duties. Both are bigger and more powerfully built than the 5-foot-9, 190-pound Perry.
"Jason is big, kind of like the guy Tennessee has," said Friedgen, referring to Travis Stephens, who ran for 276 yards for the Volunteers in a 34-32 upset of Florida to knock the Gators out of contention for the national championship game.
The 6-3, 218-pound Riley has been a short-yardage specialist with 10 touchdowns. Crawford (6-2, 216) is an explosive runner but has played little in pressure situations in part because he was fumble prone in practice.
"With Bruce being a little nicked up, I feel like I have to step up." said Riley, who rushed for 338 yards this season. "I feel like Bruce is going to play. So we are not going to be losing anything."
Friedgen has adopted a wait-and-see approach on his top tailback but said there is a timetable for a return if Perry is to play likely Monday.
"I would say probably two days before the game, something like that," the coach said. "We'll see where he is at that point in time. Because if he doesn't practice, he's not going to play very well either. We might as well go with guys that are here."

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