- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 28, 2002

The presence of a Division I-AA foe on the football schedule of the defending ACC champions normally would indicate an easy victory and a chance to fine-tune some things on both sides of the ball.
Just don't tell Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen.
Friedgen has fretted openly all week about the Terps' meeting with Wofford tonight at Byrd Stadium. The Terriers (3-0) are ranked No.19 in I-AA, have allowed 13 points in three games and efficiently use an option attack that large schools rarely face anymore.
"This is a dangerous opponent," Friedgen said. "They're a I-AA opponent, so everybody will look at some of their heights and weights [and dismiss them]. But this is a very well-coached team that plays really hard. We'd better be ready to play this game."
It will be Wofford's seventh game in five years against Division I-A foes, including two a season ago. The Terriers stayed within 10 points of Clemson until late in the third quarter and also pestered South Carolina for much of the first half. Wofford lost both games 38-14.
And then there's the wingbone offense, a wing-T-wishbone hybrid that Wofford coach Mike Ayers has used since arriving 15 years ago at the 1,100-student school in Spartanburg, S.C. The Terriers rarely throw the ball, but it didn't stop them from dealing perennial I-AA behemoth Georgia Southern its first home loss since 1996 last Saturday.
"It's just something that's different," said Ayers, whose Terriers climbed to their highest Division I-AA ranking this week since making the jump from Division II eight years ago. "We feel like the size of school we have that we can't line up and knock someone off the ball."
It's also a brand of football the Terps (2-2) are not accustomed to. Only a handful of Division I-A schools still rely on the option, and most of Maryland's defensive players have not seen an option offense since high school.
At the request of defensive coordinator Gary Blackney, Friedgen had the ball removed from some drills this week to get his defense to follow assigned players rather than converge on who has possession.
"It's been my experience when we've faced option teams with other teams that I've been with is the first couple series they got cut like wheat out there and they can't adapt to the speed until the game has already got going," Friedgen said.
The Terriers' quirks are not confined to offense. They rarely blitz yet still rank third in I-AA in pass defense. Wofford also places nose tackle Nathan Fuqua over the opposing center nearly every play, creating substantial matchup problems.
Wofford, the smallest school in I-AA, is not short on unusual stories. Joe Lesesne, Wofford's president from 1972 to 2000, is in his second year as tight ends coach. The team's leading receiver, Isaac Goodpaster, suffers from macular degeneration and is legally blind with 20/200 vision.
A victory over a program that played in the Orange Bowl nine months ago, though, might top them all.
"We're going to get them as good as they've ever been," Ayers said. "We know the cards are stacked against us. If we play and execute, you never know what can happen. Hopefully, they'll kind of overlook us a little bit."
Notes If junior Bruce Perry is not ready to start at tailback, Friedgen said senior Chris Downs would get the nod. Perry missed the first four games with a left groin tear and aggravated some scar tissue this week. Downs has started the last three games. Friedgen said sophomore Jason Crawford, the Terps' starter at tailback in the season opener, has practiced at fullback this week but is unlikely to see time there.


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