- The Washington Times - Friday, August 23, 2002

Maryland's top offensive weapon will be sidelined for at least four weeks and could be gone for as many as eight. Tailback Bruce Perry was diagnosed yesterday with a third-degree tear in his groin muscle, but the complete rupture will not require surgery.
There was some relief that last year's ACC Offensive Player of the Year did not suffer ligament damage, which would have kept him out all season. However, the junior will miss several big games, including the opener Aug.31 against Notre Dame and the Sept.14 contest with Florida State.
"Losing Bruce is a blow," coach Ralph Friedgen said. "But I have confidence in our other guys. They will have to rise to the occasion."
Redshirt freshman Mario Merrills and sophomore Jason Crawford are the top candidates to replace Perry. Crawford, a 6-foot-2, 200-pounder, played mainly in mop-up roles last season, gaining 146 yards on 36 carries (4.1 average). Friedgen said he doesn't plan to scale back the offense even though the backfield will have a new quarterback and tailback.
"It's our time right now," said Merrills, who is 5-10 and 197 pounds. "We just have to take advantage of it."
Perry, who chose not to speak to the media, was hurt in a warm-up drill before a team scrimmage Tuesday. Based on the timetable, he could return Sept.28 against Wofford. However, it is more likely Perry's comeback will be Oct.5 at West Virginia or Oct.17, when Georgia Tech comes to Byrd Stadium for the Terrapins' seventh game.
Friedgen informed the team of the setback following yesterday afternoon's practice, telling his players, "We just have to overcome adversity no matter who gets hurt or what coach leaves." Players were beginning to digest the situation last night.
"It kind of [stinks]," said Lamar Bryant, a junior guard. "He was our key running back last year. He was very key to our offense. But we have to pick up the pieces and run with it. It is just another obstacle that is going to turn into a steppingstone for us as a team."
Perry burst onto the national scene last season when he led the ACC with 1,242 yards rushing. The 5-9, 196-pounder also was the team's second-leading receiver with 40 catches for 359 yards.
However, Perry has been fighting injuries since straining his abdomen before the Orange Bowl. He missed spring practice after surgery to remove calcium deposits in his stomach and groin areas, then missed several fall practices with related discomfort.
The torn groin injury is not believed to be caused by the previous problems. In fact, Perry seemed to be returning to game shape and had completed five straight practices before the latest injury.
Perry was one of the last players to leave the locker room last night. The Philadelphia native seemed upbeat although he walked with a decided limp. He will immediately begin treatment with rest and then exercises in the next several days.
"I'm proud of the way he reacted," Friedgen said. "I thought he would be hurt and down. He was determined more than anything else."
Perry's teammates also began the process of moving on without their offensive catalyst.
"We can't look at it as Bruce is out, our season is shot," Bryant said. "We have to look at it as Bruce is out now someone else has to step in and fill the void."
Notes Receiver Steve Suter pulled a quad muscle in practice. The team will complete its second week of practice with its final day of two-a-day practices.

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