- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 19, 2001

Maryland's offense has made great strides under its new coach Ralph Friedgen, and even though it has scored as many touchdowns as Florida State through two games, Friedgen, an offensive mastermind, expects more out of the Terrapins when they play at Wake Forest on Saturday.

The Maryland running game has flourished, but the passing attack has yet to match that proficiency in the first two games. Starting quarterback Shaun Hill did look sharp when he completed 15 of 21 passes in two-plus quarters of work in the Terps' Sept. 8 blowout of Eastern Michigan. However, the Terps still rank last in the ACC in passing offense.

Maryland can hardly look to starting tailback Bruce Perry for more production. The sophomore, who didn't have a starting job locked up until the first game, has sliced through defenses to the tune of 6.7 yards per carry.

"I want to have a well-rounded offense," Friedgen said. "It's a positive that we are running the football, but before long we're going to have to do a good job of throwing it."

The Terps (2-0, 1-0 ACC) should have some opportunities to do exactly that against Wake Forest (2-0, 0-0), which has given up chunks of yardage through the air. Maryland has shown ability to complete short passes, but a primary goal is to stretch the Demon Deacons defense vertically and show more than a short- to medium-range passing game.

"Do we need to get the ball up the field a little further? Yeah, we do," Friedgen said. "But I think you have to take the possession stuff first and then move on. After a while, what's going to happen is once we continue to hit the timing stuff, [defenses] will start jumping it and that's going to open it up for plays down the field."

Said Hill: "I'd like to [throw the ball downfield], but well see. The normal things we do every week, we've got to get better at that stuff first."

With nearly 25 years worth of offensive coaching on his resume the last four as Georgia Tech's offensive coordinator Friedgen has enough schemes to make any college player's head spin. In truth, Friedgen said, he might have tried to cram in too many schemes too early in the season. He simplified the offensive game plan for the Terps second game, and the offense responded with a resounding performance.

Friedgen gave an example of how difficult it can be to grasp the system: Last year at Georgia Tech, the Yellow Jackets got some new position coaches on offense, and as a result, there were times veteran players knew the system better than the coaches did. Still, the Terps' coach said his team is further along right now than his first Georgia Tech team was at the same time.

"You definitely have to be on the ball," center Melvin Fowler said. "The quarterback can check out of a play in any situation. You just have to make sure your ears are open and you're alert. It's an offense that makes you think."

Friedgen said he's not going to go away from the running game while the Terps enjoy so much success with it, but acknowledged the passing game must improve for Maryland to take advantage of teams that crowd the line of scrimmage.

"I'm not totally pleased with [Hill's] decision making," Friedgen said, "but I thought he improved quite a bit last game. And as long as he keeps on improving, were fine."

Pressure kicker

The Terps' kicking situation will be resolved by tomorrow, Friedgen said. Redshirt freshman Nick Novak, 0-for-4 on field goals, will be challenged by senior Vedad Siljkovic, who has handled kickoff duties and made a 44-yard field goal against Eastern Michigan in his only attempt of the season. The Terps put extra work in last week on protection schemes for field goals and point-after attempts.

Building depth

Friedgen said one area he wants to focus on in Saturday's game is building depth. Friedgen named redshirt freshman Kyle Schmitt, who will rotate with Lamar Bryant and Todd Wike at guard, and freshman tailback Jason Crawford among the players he wants to get more playing time. Friedgen added that freshman defensive tackle Randy Starks played well against Eastern Michigan and should get more snaps, as will cornerbacks Dennard Wilson and Jamal Chance behind Tony Okanlawon and Curome Cox, respectively.

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