- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 13, 2002

At a generously listed 6 feet, Scott McBrien is used to being overlooked. The low-key Maryland quarterback doesn't put up gaudy statistics, but he has done his job efficiently enough to lead the 19th-ranked Terrapins to seven consecutive wins.

The left-handed junior had another statistically unimpressive game in last week's 24-21 victory over No.22 N.C.State, completing 10 of 18 passes for 130 yards without a touchdown or an interception. However, he executed well enough to lead Maryland back from a 21-7 deficit in the third quarter.

"We have a bright quarterback now that is playing pretty darn good," said coach Ralph Friedgen, whose Terps (8-2, 4-1 ACC) visit Clemson (6-4, 4-3) on Saturday. "He's making plays. He's not making mistakes. He's not turning the ball over. He's running the show."

McBrien did have a 21-yard touchdown run on a naked bootleg to tie the game 21-21 and threw a 36-yard pass to Steve Suter to set up the winning field goal. In the winning streak, McBrien has eight touchdown passes and only one interception while completing 61 percent of his passes.

The outlook has changed completely for McBrien, who was ridiculed early in the season when his job seemed in jeopardy. He couldn't lead the Terps on a scoring drive in losses to No.9 Notre Dame and No.15 Florida State. He had two interceptions in each of those games and made several ill-advised option pitches that left the ball on the ground.

"It was a rocky start at first," McBrien said. "I was getting pretty nervous when I was in those situations. I don't think it is just myself, but everybody is more composed now in those type of situations."

In addition to finding playmakers like tailback Chris Downs and Suter, the coaches rebuilt and simplified the offense around McBrien after the 37-10 loss to the Seminoles. The Terps have taken advantage of his accuracy, particularly on short routes that give receivers room to run.

Maryland also has taken advantage of his powerful arm to connect on several long balls, which also spreads defenses and opens up the running game for Suter, Downs and Bruce Perry.

McBrien showed his intelligence and cool several times against N.C. State. On his touchdown run, he wisely kept the ball and went untouched around the right side into the end zone.

"I just read the [defensive] end," McBrien said. "If he closed real hard, I was taking it. If he came for me, I was giving it to Chris."

On the game-winning drive, McBrien's goal, at least before the pass to Suter, was to advance to the Wolfpack's 35 and get into kicker Nick Novak's range. But on first down at the 50, a potentially chaotic situation came up.

"Scooter [Monroe] was supposed to be in motion," McBrien said of the wide receiver. "But the play clock was at two [seconds] and I didn't have time. It was either Suter or nothing. Scooter was my first read, but I didn't have time to send him in motion. I just threw it up and allowed him to make a play."

The perfectly placed pass was caught in stride at the 14, making Novak's winning field goal a chip shot. McBrien completed all three of his passes on the drive and kept it alive when he ran on third down at midfield.

"You can just tell by his body language and how he goes about calling the play that he is just confident," Monroe said. "There is a presence in the huddle that everyone knows we can move the ball. It wasn't always like that."

Notes Offensive tackle Matt Crawford (strained knee) is questionable for Saturday. Center Kyle Schmitt has been cleared to play after missing the last two weeks with a sprained shoulder. Perry (shoulder) and Downs (ankle) are expected to play.

Maryland practiced indoors yesterday because of the rain. Friedgen downplayed the effect of working inside the 35-yard tennis bubble when he spoke at the media luncheon. As he completed his comments, he looked to the back of the room at athletic director Debbie Yow and said, "Someday we are going to have a nice facility here. Right, Dr.Yow?"

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