- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 26, 2002

Some of the Maryland Terrapins spent Christmas packing up their belongings and catching a plane. Others made their own arrangements to get to Atlanta in time for the Terps' first team meeting there in preparation for the Peach Bowl.
The Terps touched down in Atlanta last night, but they plan to show they have truly arrived as a major college football program on New Year's Eve in the Georgia Dome. The 20th-ranked Terps will face the Tennessee Volunteers that night and, they hope, come away with the school's first bowl victory since the Cherry Bowl in 1985.
"We're in the postseason for the second time in two years," guard Lamar Bryant said. "No Maryland team in the '90s has done that. And two 10-win seasons no other team at Maryland has done that. If we beat Tennessee in this bowl game, it would do wonders for this program."
There was little fanfare as the Terps left College Park in wintry conditions yesterday afternoon. One young fan asked coach Ralph Friedgen to sign a football. About 30 players boarded buses that took them to the airport to begin what they hope will be a successful journey this time.
"It's a big opportunity for us against a very good football team," Friedgen said. "Hopefully, we can punch through this time."
The Terps ended a decade-long bowl drought last season by winning the ACC and earning a BCS bid to the Orange Bowl. The season ended with a 56-23 drubbing by Steve Spurrier's Florida Gators. Maryland will again face a speed-oriented SEC team, although the Volunteers (8-4) have been slowed by injuries this season.
Maryland (10-3) left for the Peach Bowl a much more rested team than the one that lost in the Orange Bowl. Maryland practiced only twice in the last 13 days the Terps took the week off following their win over Wake Forest on Nov. 30 and were off last week for final exams. After practicing Saturday and Sunday, players were given two days off for the holidays.
Last season, Maryland practiced through exams and even had two-a-day sessions before traveling to Miami.
"Maybe we did too much [last year]," said Friedgen, whose team had two more weeks (six overall) before last season's bowl. "I was so worried about the time differential between our regular season and the bowl game. I was trying to keep our continuity, and I think we can almost get stale at that because you practice a long time without playing a game. I don't think that is the case this time."
The Terps will practice in the Georgia Dome today and plan on splitting the next five sessions between the dome and Georgia Tech, where Friedgen spent four seasons as offensive coordinator before coming to Maryland before the 2001 season. The Volunteers also arrived in Atlanta last night.
All-American linebacker E.J. Henderson was among those who caught the team flight. The Butkus and Bednarik Award winner is making the final trip of his college career and wants a big finish: the program's first postseason victory in 17 seasons.
"This will be a good way to go out," Henderson said. "Winning against a big team like Tennessee would be a great win."
Players had the choice of traveling with the team or on their own. Those who went on their own will be reimbursed by the NCAA for either the cost of a plane ticket or mileage to Atlanta. Many players took advantage of the chance to make money. …
Three Terps earned perfect grade-point averages in the fall semester: Kicker Nick Novak, return man Steve Suter and walk-on linebacker Charles Luke had 4.0 GPAs. …
Recruit Donnie Woods will join the team in Atlanta. The Tampa, Fla., product, who is rated among the top-10 high school offensive guards, graduated this month and will be on scholarship at Maryland in January. He will not participate in spring drills because he is recovering from a torn ACL in his right knee. …
While Friedgen was speaking to the media on the steps outside Byrd Stadium, the coach's cell phone rang. Friedgen excused himself and said, "Hello, Ambrose" presumably speaking to Ambrose Wooden, the Maryland state offensive player of the year out of Gilman High School in Baltimore. Wooden apparently called to wish Friedgen a happy holiday. The quarterback/safety, who is expected to play defense in college, is considering Notre Dame and Maryland, among others.

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