- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 5, 2003

Maryland is trying to get two quarterbacks ready for opening day — both this year’s and next season’s.

With senior Scott McBrien starting his second season and senior Orlando Evans the tentative backup, the No.13 Terrapins already are working on a successor. Freshmen Joel Statham and Sam Hollenbach continued a close competition — it began at the red/white spring game — during practice yesterday. Scrimmages on Aug.14 and Aug.17 likely will decide McBrien’s heir.

Coach Ralph Friedgen conceded the competition could influence playing time this season. If Maryland gets a large lead, one of the freshmen could finish the game. They’re also being pushed harder during practices, with both facing 25-second clocks in the first workout.

“Both Joel and Sam show a lot more poise,” Friedgen said. “Normally I wouldn’t put the clock on them, but we need to accelerate the process. They’re kind of where [McBrien] was last year. I’m concerned about who our backup quarterback’s going to be. I don’t know that yet. … I’d at least like to get somebody some experience for next year.”

Evans has been sidelined both practices by headaches, which Friedgen said “closes the gap” with the freshmen. Statham has a quicker release more suited for the option, but Hollenbach’s athleticism may let him adjust quicker.

“They both possess the tools; it’s just who’s going to come along first,” Friedgen said. “They didn’t make as much progress [yesterday] as [Monday], but that’s to be expected.”

Running along

One of the tighter competitions might be at tailback, at which 2001 ACC offensive player of the year Bruce Perry must outlast Josh Allen. Perry is coming off an injury-plagued season in which he gained only 341 yards compared to Allen’s 407. However, Allen was hampered by a groin injury during spring practice, while Perry proved his readiness.

Friedgen probably will play both regularly, but the starter hasn’t been decided. Perry is the front-runner, but Allen could be a surprise pick if he’s healthy.

“When Josh is right, he can compete with Bruce for the starting job,” Friedgen said. “When he’s not right, he’s going to get tested by Mario Merrills and Sam Maldonado. There’s competition at that position, too. I’m going to play the best guy. It doesn’t matter if it’s Bruce, Sammy or whoever.”

Perry said he learned how to split defenders better when he was sidelined six games last year. He’s now tutoring younger players about reading defenses.

“Guys have become students of the game,” Perry said, “and as I get older, that’s something I felt like I needed to do. … There’s not too much more I can learn, but there’s a lot I can teach.”

Kelley doing well on defense

Former quarterback Chris Kelley has adapted quickly to strong safety and could be a fixture in nickel and dime coverages and special teams cover units. Kelley is vying with Dennard Wilson and Andrew Smith for a regular role.

“He’s a better blitzer and deep-cover guy than he is getting matched up, but that’s not unusual for a guy that just moved over,” Friedgen said. “The thing that is unusual is that he’s very aggressive for a quarterback.”

Extra points

The new artificial field drew raves from Friedgen. Like the Baltimore Ravens’ M&T; Bank Stadium surface, soil is between the fibers instead of underneath to provide more cushion.

“It’s nice we can stay up and not be like Ice Capades like we were before,” Friedgen said. “It’s a little bit softer.” …

Freshmen tight end Vernon Davis, linebacker Wesley Jefferson, receiver Drew Weatherly and defensive end Patrick Powell were singled out by Friedgen for good starts. … Maryland will open practice to the public Aug. 17 with an autograph session afterward. Currently, only invited guests can watch drills.

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