- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 17, 2002

Scott McBrien is just ahead of sophomore Chris Kelley in the competition to become Maryland's starting quarterback when the 21st-ranked Terrapins open the season two weeks from today against Notre Dame in the Kickoff Classic at Giants Stadium.

"It's very close right now," coach Ralph Friedgen said yesterday. "If it stays very close, I probably wouldn't be opposed to playing both of them. Both of them bring something to the table."

Friedgen said left-handed junior McBrien has a slight edge, but he won't make a decision until after Tuesday's scrimmage. McBrien, a 6-foot, 180-pound transfer from West Virginia, is regarded as the better passer. Kelley is more adept as a runner, but the coaches are reluctant to expose him in the option game since he had his third reconstructive knee surgery in May.

McBrien trained all summer as the No.1 quarterback because it was assumed Kelley wouldn't be available until midway through the season at best. It was during those dog days that the DeMatha High School graduate made considerable strides by studying film four days a week and mastering plays while working in 7-on-7 drills.

"During skeletons this summer, he got so much more familiar with the patterns," Friedgen said. "In the spring, he had no idea where the [running] backs were. He knew the patterns, but didn't know where the backs were. You have to know where the backs are, then you can dump it off to the back. He's to that stage right now. I think he is ahead of where Shaun [Hill was at this point last season] in the throwing game."

McBrien is still learning the proper reads in the option game, which is less natural to him than a passing attack. He believes the knowledge he gained over the summer has helped him play more instinctively and that allows him to call the correct audibles by rapidly reading defenses.

"When you get up to the line and see a safety doing something safeties never lie they tell you exactly what they're doing," said McBrien, who started one game and played in 10 for West Virginia in 2000 while throwing for 755 yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions.

Freshman impressive

Although the offensive line has been a trouble area because of injuries and heat problems, a bright spot has been 6-6, 290-pound freshman Stephon Heyer, who wears size 21 shoes. The Lawrenceville, Ga., product is thriving in a place where newcomers are usually slow to develop due to the extensive physical and mental demands.

"It's very rare for a freshman to come in and help at lineman," said Friedgen, who credited high school coaching for allowing Heyer to make the quick adjustment. "He's nasty. He doesn't take anything from anybody. He's been a real pleasant surprise at a position we really need help."

Dickerson hurts knee

Linebacker Ricardo Dickerson was diagnosed with a posterior cruciate tear of the left knee yesterday and is expected to miss four to six weeks. The redshirt freshman, who was chasing Leroy Ambush for a starting spot, went down while backpedaling in 1-on-1 drills with receivers in the morning.

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