- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 10, 2001

Several Maryland coaches took a page out of Joe Gibbs' book and spent several nights in their offices this week. The Gossett Team House has been doubling as football offices and a housing facility the last few days as coaches of the No. 22 Terrapins prepare for tomorrow night's game at 15th-ranked Georgia Tech.
Offensive coordinator Charlie Taaffe and defensive coordinator Gary Blackney bunked inside the building just behind one of the Byrd Stadium end zones. Taaffe figures he got about four hours of sleep a night on the couch in his office. It's all part of cramming a full workweek of preparation into about 21/2 days.
"I haven't been home since Sunday," Taafe said late yesterday afternoon. "I have been sleeping in the office. There is just too much to do in a short week. I hope to get home tonight and reacquaint myself with the family."
Coach Ralph Friedgen, whose normal business day runs from about 6:30 a.m. until 11 p.m., has not been spending his nights in the office.
"I have to go home even if it's for five minutes," Friedgen said. "My coaches have been sleeping in the office, which I don't like, but they do it. They are still asleep when I get there. That's the only thing that worries me."
The Terps (5-0, 3-0) will try to maintain sole possession of first place in the ACC when they visit the Yellow Jackets (4-1, 1-1). Maryland ended a dubious nine-game losing streak against Virginia on Saturday and will try to snap another heinous streak in Atlanta. The program has a 34-game losing streak against ranked opponents dating back to 1990.

'Tony O' Show
Maryland cornerback Tony Okanlawon, known around College Park as 'Tony O,' was named ACC defensive back of the week after snaring his fourth interception of the season and breaking up four passes against the Cavaliers. He is tied for first nationally in interceptions per game. The DeMatha High graduate had just one interception in 20 starts before this season.
It is quite a turnaround for the 5-foot-11 Okanlawon, who was the Terps' most criticized player the last two seasons. The harping got so bad that when Friedgen went to booster functions, he would regularly hear about the cornerback's struggles.
"They asked me if we could get him to look for the ball more," Friedgen said. "I don't know what that meant."
The low point of Okanlawon's career was in 1999 when Virginia's Billy McMullen scored the game-winning touchdown in the final minute by outleaping Okanlawon in the end zone. That loss in the season finale cost Maryland a winning season and a trip to a bowl.

Old friends
Georgia Tech coach George O'Leary and Friedgen spent 10 seasons coaching together, including the past four seasons with the Yellow Jackets as the coach and offensive coordinator, respectively. The last time they were on opposite sidelines was the 1985 Cherry Bowl, when Friedgen was a Maryland assistant under Bobby Ross and O'Leary was the defensive line coach at Syracuse.
"George is a practical jokes man if you know him," Friedgen said. "We were at the banquet, and George came up to me. He knew our special teams coach, Jeff Mann, was with me. This was typical George. He said, 'Boy, you guys really don't have very good special teams.' Of course, Jeff bristled at it. He got very upset.
"The first [Maryland] punt of the game, the Syracuse guy dropped the ball, we caught it and scored a touchdown. We were playing in the Silverdome, and I yelled across the field, 'Hey George. How's those special teams?' Well, he gave me the old No. 1 sign."
Maryland won the game 35-18. Friedgen and O'Leary went out for a drink later.

Extra points
Left guard Todd Wike practiced yesterday and will make the trip to Atlanta. Wike, a junior who was named ACC offensive lineman of the week, was expected to be out with a sprained foot. It is now considered a bruised foot. Redshirt freshman Kyle Schmitt should play extensively in his spot.
Maryland quarterback Shaun Hill was named ACC offensive back of the week after passing for 237 yards and two touchdowns and running for another.
The Oct. 20 Duke-Maryland game at 1 p.m. will be televised by Jefferson Pilot Sports.

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