- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 29, 2001

There's no secrecy attached to today's game between unbeaten Maryland and West Virginia at Byrd Stadium. The Terrapins want to run the ball. The Mountaineers want to make them throw.

Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen acknowleged as much yesterday and challenged his starting quarterback to come up big if he does have to throw.

The Terps will send the nation's leading rusher, Bruce Perry, against the 108th-rated rushing defense. As a result, Friedgen expects the Mountaineers to stack the line.

"They are going to pressure us," Friedgen said. "They are going to come after us with eight, nine if [West Virginia defensive coordinator] Phil [Elmassian] can get 10 in the box, he'll put 'em in… . They are going to make us throw the ball. They aren't going to let Perry run for 100-something yards."

The Terps have built a 3-0 record as Perry amassed 525 yards behind a cohesive front line. A win today would give them just their second 4-0 start since 1978. The 5-foot-9, 190-pounder is averaging 175 yards after racking up 276 last week the most ever against Wake Forest.

The slippery sophomore will draw the most attention from the Mountaineers (2-1), who have allowed 241 yards a game to three uninspiring offenses. The team's wins were over lightweights Ohio University and Kent State. Boston College totaled 325 yards on the ground in walloping the Mountaineers 34-10 in the opener.

While the Terps' running game has sparkled, their passing has been ordinary.

Quarterback Shaun Hill is having a decent season, completing 58.6 percent of this passes. The senior from Kansas is averaging 165 yards in the air with three touchdowns and two interceptions, both of the latter in costly situations last week. Dropped passes and poor blocking have victimized Hill as he continues to search for a rhythm.

"I think he is trying to anticipate things rather than just let them happen," said Friedgen, who watched Hill throw an interception inside Wake Forest's 10 last week. "He threw the ball up for grabs a few times… . Where I saw improvement in Shaun was, he hung in there. In the North Carolina game, he got antsy with the rush a couple times. [Last] Saturday, he stood right in there."

On the other side of the ball, the Terps' defense will be geared to stop the run. West Virginia junior tailback Avon Cobourne ranks 10th in the nation in rushing with 139 yards a game, but he had just 62 yards Boston College, the Mountaineers' only formidable opponent.

The 5-9, 190-pound Cobourne had 97 yards in the first half against Maryland last season before he left with a sprained ankle and gave way to Cooper Rego, who continued the pounding. Rego gained 114 in West Virginia's 30-17 win in Morgantown.

The Mountaineers employ a frenetic, no-huddle offense under first-year coach Rich Rodriguez, who came to his alma mater after serving as Tommy Bowden's offensive coordinator at Clemson. Senior quarterback Brad Lewis put up big numbers (27 completions, 306 yards, two touchdowns) last week against Kent State but has yet to prove himself against a good team. For the season, Lewis has two touchdowns and two interceptions both in the loss to Boston College.

The Terps are heavy favorites on their home field. Maryland also has an edge in confidence as West Virginia has had lackluster outings in its victories. Maryland is starting to feel like a team on a roll.

"It's a perception that I hope we are changing," said Friedgen, who has tried to instill a swagger in his troops. "Our kids are expecting to win."

Notes The only time since 1978 Maryland started 4-0 was in 1995, when Mark Duffner's team finished 6-5. The '78 team won its first eight under Jerry Claiborne… . Maryland has outscored opponents 100-30… .

The Maryland program has two former West Virginia quarterbacks who walked on this summer. Junior Hunter Cross transferred this summer. Sophomore Scott McBrien (DeMatha High School) was second string for the Mountaineers last season and began fall practice there before leaving for College Park in late August. Both are sitting out this season because of NCAA transfer rules

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