- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 21, 2001

The seeds that led to Maryland's dramatic game-winning and ACC-clinching scoring drive Saturday at N.C. State were planted in Cole Field House more than 30 years ago. Terrapins coach Ralph Friedgen was a graduate student and assistant football coach when he got an unscheduled lesson from college basketball's "Wizard of Westwood."
"The Final Four was being held here and we had a break in class," said Friedgen. "I went out and was watching UCLA with John Wooden. I was sitting there. The ball was going around so fast. I was just immersed in his practice and how he practiced. Then he did the last 30 seconds and he worked that. Then he did the last minute."
It was the Bruins' crisp passing and precise movement that stirred the young Friedgen's passion for the hurry-up offense. UCLA went on to win its fourth consecutive title behind Sidney Wicks and Henry Bibby by beating Jacksonville in College Park.
Thirty-one years later, and in a different sport, quarterback Shaun Hill led Maryland on a rapid, controlled 10-play, 61-yard scoring drive that culminated with Guilian Gary catching the championship-clinching touchdown with 41 seconds remaining. The eighth-ranked Terps' 23-19 victory secured their first ACC title since 1985 and a BCS berth.
Friedgen looks at that day in March of 1970 as an epiphany, and has emphasized the two-minute drill and quick-paced practices throughout his career. Wooden's example would pay long-term dividends although the immediate result was to bring Friedgen's academic commitment into question.
"By the time I got out of the practice, I was late for class, and the professor was a little irritated," he said. "I said 'I lost my attention. I was watching UCLA work out.' She said, 'Well, you're not going to have a future if you do that.' I said, 'Quite contrary. That's where I think my future is.'"
The Terps (10-1, 7-1 ACC) took possession on their own 39-yard line with 2:19 left and no timeouts remaining Saturday. Maryland's defense had forced a three-and-out after it appeared Terps receiver Rich Parson had fumbled the game away at the Wolfpack's 1-yard line with 2:51 remaining. The Terps had burned their final two timeouts on the defense series, and needed a field goal to tie.
"We practice without timeouts," said Friedgen, who was so disappointed with the two-minute drills in practice last week that he made his team repeat the dreaded drill several times. "We know how to get out of bounds and work the clock. We just have to make plays. When we make plays, we light it up."
Hill is the perfect executor of Friedgen's designs. The senior does not have extraordinary speed or arm strength, but relies on heady play and being calm under duress. Hill had led the Terps on a last-minute drive for the game-tying field goal at Georgia Tech, a 47-yarder by Nick Novak. Earlier in Saturday's game, Hill engineered an 11-play, 72-yard drive resulting in Maryland finally scoring on a 25-yard Novak field goal with five seconds left in the first half.
The junior college transfer from Kansas trotted on the field in the final minutes with wits in check, and a slightly elevated heart rate.
"It's constant all the time," said Hill, who completed 11of 15 passes in the fourth quarter for 180 yards. "It might quicken a little bit when we are in the two-minute mod because we're at a quicker pace."
Friedgen said it was like "free money" when N.C. State played prevent defense, allowing short passes and receivers to get out of bounds. The critical play came after Bruce Perry had dropped a third-down pass that would've given Maryland a first down. On the play, right guard Lamar Bryant and right tackle Matt Crawford were shaken up and left the game. Left tackle C.J. Brooks switched to the right side, while experienced Eric Dumas came in to take his old spot. Freshman Kyle Schmitt came into the game for the first time at right guard.
On fourth-and-five, Hill narrowly got the ball off toward Perry in the left flats just before being decked by Shawn Price, who had broken through the revamped right side.
"I didn't even see the ball after I threw it," Hill said. "I didn't know if the ball was going to get there or not. I could just tell by the silence of the crowd that we had gotten the first down."
The 9-yard gain kept the drive alive, and the rest is a now a Maryland legend. Six plays later on first-and-goal, Gary faked a fade pattern deep in the end zone, came back and caught the winning 8-yard scoring pass just over the goal line inside the right pylon. Cool-hand Hill has completed another unlikely journey; this time for a championship.
"There is probably a 10-page section in our playbook on the two-minute offense," said Friedgen, who also likes to use the hurry-up offense in practice for conditioning purposes. "When you ask me if I'm surprised that they're poised, I expect that. "[This team] will always have a special place in my heart because of the way they finish."
Maryland's success this year can be traced to a tardy student, mesmerized by the "Wizard of Westwood."


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