- The Washington Times - Friday, September 20, 2002

Maryland quarterback Chris Kelley has used his relentless determination to come back from three major knee operations in his short college career.

That drive that pushed him to a remarkable recovery from knee surgery less than three months before the preseason now is being tested as he languishes as a reserve for the Terrapins.

He will again be the backup tomorrow when Scott McBrien starts as the Terrapins (1-2) play host to Eastern Michigan (1-2) at Byrd Stadium.

"[McBrien] was outright the best quarterback this week," said Terps coach Ralph Friedgen, who had reopened the quarterback competition after McBrien was ineffective in last week's 37-10 loss to No.5 Florida State. "Maybe next week that will change."

Kelley accepts his role and supports his friend McBrien, but don't expect him to pretend to like it. The quarterback has not played in a meaningful part of game in the new millennium since he led Seneca Valley High School to an undefeated season and the state championship in 1999. This is the first time Kelley has been available at the start of a season, and he has come off the bench in all three games when the game was already decided.

"I have never come in as a backup in my life in anything, really," said Kelley, who led the Terps to their only touchdown in the fourth quarter last week.

Kelley is anxious for his chance, although he probably must improve in the passing game before that happens. However, he does already bring an intangible the Terps have been missing at times this season under McBrien, a low-key leader: Kelley's infectious personality motivates teammates and turns on the crowd.

"I bring the attitude to the team," said Kelley, who was the No.1 quarterback before tearing an ACL in his right knee in the spring game. "I'm a vocal leader out there. I have a lot of fire. And every time I'm in there, I am going to let it explode regardless of what happens. Coach Friedgen has told me I have to calm down a little bit. I get a little excited sometimes."

Kelley has been regaining his speed since the latest injury and now plays less encumbered, wearing only one brace on his right knee (which suffered the most recent ACL tear). He is a physical runner who is efficient in the option and can burst upfield for a first down. Those are areas where McBrien, who is natural a pocket passer, struggles.

"What I would like Chris to do is throw the ball more accurately," said Friedgen, who sees Kelley's enthusiasm as a positive even if it needs to be toned down. "I think Chris does a very good job putting us in the right play. He has a good understanding of the running game. He needs to get better in the passing game, being accurate and making the right reads. You have to remember he's a redshirt sophomore. He hasn't had much playing time."

Perry absent from practice

Bruce Perry did not attend yesterday's practice due to a "personal matter" according to Friedgen. The coach did say the tailback will not play tomorrow due to soreness in his right leg. Perry missed the first three games due to a tear in the left groin muscle, suffered Aug.20. The latest injury was believed to be caused when he favored his uninjured leg in Monday's practice. Perry watched practice on Tuesday and participated in a limited role Wednesday. He is now expected back Sept.28 against Wofford.

Chris Downs will start at tailback and share time with Mario Merrills. Jason Crawford didn't practice again yesterday due to a hip flexor injury and probably won't play, bumping freshman Josh Allen to the No.3 running back slot.

Extra points

Kyle Schmitt will start at center, while Todd Wike will likely miss the game due to effects from a concussion suffered against Florida State. Wike missed his second straight practice yesterday. Maryland is last in the ACC in total offense at 252.7 yards a game. Punter Brooks Barnard leads the league with a 42.0-yard average.

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