- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 7, 2001

The clacking coming from Byrd Stadium was the latest sound of success for the Maryland football program. Construction workers set up 3,000 temporary bleachers yesterday in preparation for what's expected to be one of the biggest crowds in stadium history Saturday night when the 13th-ranked Terrapins play host to Clemson.
Already assured of their first sellout since 1995, the Terps (8-1, 5-1 ACC) are expecting more than 50,000 spectators when the Tigers (5-3, 3-3) come to Byrd for Maryland's final home game. Saturday's crowd could be the largest in College Park since Oct. 29, 1983, when 51,200 passed through Byrd's turnstiles to watch the Terps beat North Carolina 28-26.
"It means accomplishment," said Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen, who has been critical of fans slow to fill the stadium as the Terps won their first six home games. "It means that people are recognizing that we are back."
Back might be an understatement. Maryland was a national power before the program backpedaled to mediocrity in the late 1980s, but with a win, the Terps would be 9-1, matching their best start in 23 seasons. They are in line for a share of the ACC title and the Gator Bowl on New Year's Day in Jacksonville, Fla. They also have an outside shot at a BCS bowl. Despite all their success, they have been slow to draw. Some 10,000 less than capacity watched Maryland wallop Troy State 47-14 on Saturday in Byrd.
"It was something I thought would happen earlier in the season but never did," said Terps quarterback Shaun Hill, a senior who will play his final home game Saturday. "It's better to happen later than never."
The last of the added seats were sold early yesterday afternoon, and a capacity crowd should be on hand when the Terps try to snap an eight-game losing streak to Clemson. The last sellout at Byrd was Sept. 17, 1995, and Maryland has played 31 times on its field since then.
It has been a dramatic change this season for the players, who grew accustomed to small crowds that dwindled further as fruitless seasons wound down.
"I remember coming out for my first game here, and there were maybe 30,000 people," senior tailback Marc Riley said. "There is an estimated crowd of 52 or 53,000 for this one. It's just going to be a very heartwarming experience for me. I know I'm going to take a little glimpse around before and after the game."
The Terps will face an erratic Clemson team that lost to Florida State 41-27 on Saturday. Quarterback Woody Dantzler began the season as a Heisman candidate but has struggled as injuries have taken their toll on the Tigers. Maryland's running game should fare well against Clemson's porous defense, which has allowed 28.4 points a game (eighth in ACC) and nearly 400 yards a game. That bodes well for Terps tailback Bruce Perry, who leads the league by averaging 117.9 yards rushing.
"The fans, the community, they definitely see that something special is happening here, and they want to be part of it," said Terps center Melvin Fowler, a fifth-year senior. "We have a chance to win the ACC and possibly play on New Year's Day. The sky is the limit."
Friedgen went out to booster groups in the offseason in hopes of seeing an atmosphere like this.
"I have always said that we have never reached our potential," said Friedgen, who played at Maryland in the late 1960s and twice was a Terps assistant coach. "Our potential is so great that I can see a day when this is just a common occurrence. … Someday I want to finish this [stadium]. I want another deck."
Said Hill: "You couldn't have written a better script. It can't get any better than a win and a sellout. The fans have done their part. The next part is ours."
Notes Cornerback Dennard Wilson (strained hamstring) practiced yesterday and is expected to play. Friedgen will decide later this week whether to use true freshman cornerback Domonique Foxworth, who has been redshirting but is listed as second string on the depth chart. …
Linebacker Mike Whaley (neck strain) is expected to return after missing last week. …
Terps radio broadcaster Johnny Holliday signed a four-year contract. He is in his 23rd year calling Maryland games.


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