- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 21, 2003

Maryland ended its preseason football camp yesterday — outlasting a rash of injuries and steamy conditions for nearly three weeks.

“When you go through a tough camp now, it pays off during the season in the fourth quarter,” receiver Latrez Harrison said. “The last two preseasons got us through a lot of games. This camp was the hardest one ever. You know who will walk with you as a teammate. There’s a lot of people you think are not tough, and you learn a lot from those guys. When you see those guys on game day, you know you can count on them.”

Quarterback Scott McBrien missed his third straight practice with a sore groin, joining other key players such as running back Bruce Perry, returner Steve Suter and linebacker Shawne Merriman on the sideline a week before Maryland opens the season at Northern Illinois. Almost two dozen Terps were injured during camp, though only guard Lamar Bryant (broken foot) is expected to miss extensive time.

Still, coach Ralph Friedgen is clearly concerned that injuries limited the summer session, curtailing full contact drills that included one scrimmage.

“We’re have a tough time pushing through it, more so than any year I’ve been here,” said the third-year coach. “I’m hoping when we get our legs back that things will improve. Two-a-days get old. My coaches are tired. I’m tired. The kids are tired. I’m looking forward to the season. You have to push through [camp] because it’s one of the things that make you stronger down the stretch.”

Maryland is expected to contend for its second ACC title in three years and win at least 10 games for the third straight season. The camp confirmed that the secondary could be the ACC’s best, and middle linebacker D’Qwell Jackson appears ready to succeed All-American E.J. Henderson. Surprisingly, the defense was ahead of the offense during camp, partly because of injuries to the latter.

“The [defense] seems to have a lot more life than the offense, a lot more enthusiasm” Friedgen said. “For the last eight days, they’ve been practicing better. My concern is with the offense, not the defense.”

Dugan overlooked?

Jeff Dugan has caught 16 passes in two seasons under Friedgen after grabbing 25 in 2000. However, the tight end may get more chances this year as Friedgen expands the passing game.

“He’s doing a much better job running routes,” Friedgen said. “He’s a very dominant blocker. With the extra skills he has now as a receiver, he has a legitimate shot at playing at the next level. I don’t know if I could have said that a year ago.”

Said Dugan: “I’d rather block than run around catching a pass. A lot of the tight end duties is just being aggressive. Otherwise, they’ll try to get you.”

Dugan scolded a freshman during drills for lagging behind. The senior, who has emerged as a team leader, doesn’t tolerate slackers.

“Jeff’s not afraid to tell you what he thinks,” Friedgen said. “He speaks, they listen. Kind of like what E.J. [Henderson] was last year. When he tells you something, [teammates] don’t generally argue with him.”

Extra points

If quarterback Scott McBrien can’t return to full practice by Monday, Friedgen will consider starting Orlando Evans against Northern Illinois. McBrien is expected to partially work tomorrow following today’s break. … Offensive tackle Eric Dumas (knee), receiver Rich Parson (virus) and linebacker Andrew Henley (hamstring) returned after missing one day. Receiver JoJo Hunter (virus), defensive end Scott Smith (back) and Merriman (knee) are expected to practice tomorrow. … Offensive tackle Brandon Nixon returned after missing nearly two weeks on personal business.

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