- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Maryland’s decimated backfield may force the Terrapins to use freshman running back Lance Ball against Virginia tomorrow.

Running back Bruce Perry is doubtful after watching practice yesterday with a sprained ankle. Perry hasn’t worked since leaving the 59-21 victory over North Carolina on Nov.1 in the second quarter. Sam Maldonado had season-ending knee surgery yesterday, leaving Josh Allen as the only healthy experienced runner.

Maryland has fared well this season when it has alternated runners. It wasn’t unusual to see a different runner in three straight sets during early season games.

However, Allen, who leads the Terps with 478 yards and six touchdowns on 106 carries, will get more carries than usual against Virginia. Allen has only one 100-yard game and gained just 31 yards on five carries against North Carolina and no yards on five carries vs. Georgia Tech on Oct.23.

Seldom-used Mario Merrills and J.P. Humber also will be available. Merrills has 88 yards and one touchdown on 22 carries in three games. Humber gained 39 yards on 10 carries in two games.

“It concerns me,” coach Ralph Friedgen said. “We have to play two guys that haven’t played a whole lot all year.”

Friedgen is considering using Ball though even one snap would cost him his redshirt season. Maryland (6-3, 3-2 ACC) must beat Virginia (5-4, 3-3) for a chance to share the ACC title or earn a possible Gator Bowl berth as the ACC runner-up. Friedgen said Ball has improved steadily during practices and could contribute. Ball gained 1,473 yards and scored 18 touchdowns as a high school senior last season in Teaneck, N.J., where he was all-state.

“I’ve been amazed how Lance picks things up,” Friedgen said. “He’s a very instinctive player.”

Meanwhile, fullback Ricardo Dickerson is probable with a strained hamstring. Dickerson is also a third-down pass rusher.

Simulating Schaub

Maryland quarterbacks Ryan Mitch and Sam Hollenbach have simulated Virginia quarterback Matt Schaub’s quick release during recent practices. Schaub is known for throwing short screens that turned into three touchdowns in Virginia’s 48-13 victory over Maryland last year.

“It’s hard to duplicate the speed in which they execute,” Friedgen said. “We have a lot of similar plays that they do. We try to sit on their receivers. They get the ball off quick. A lot of their passes are just like runs.”

Bye bye, Byrd

Twenty-three seniors play their final game at Byrd Stadium before ending the season at N.C. State and Wake Forest. The nationally televised contest provides a memorable backdrop before an expected sellout crowd.

“It’s the last home game. It’s always the one they’ll remember,” Friedgen said. “The place will be packed, loud, on national TV against your rival. You couldn’t script it better than that.”

Said safety Dennard Wilson: “There’s a lot of stipulations to this game so what a way to go out.”

The Terps are 18-1 at Byrd under Friedgen. Players are eager to sing the postgame victory song once more with Friedgen before the student section.

“We take pride in the fact we don’t lose here at Byrd,” defensive tackle C.J. Feldheim said. “We love singing that song.”

Extra points

Gametime for N.C. State on Nov. 22 won’t be announced until Sunday because of television considerations. Kickoff either will be at noon or 3:30 p.m. … Maryland is considering Temple for a 2004 home game. …

Nick Novak is a Lou Groza Award semifinalist for the second straight year as the nation’s top kicker. The junior has hit 18 of 22 field goal attempts this season. … Friedgen’s fan breakfast is 7 a.m. at the University Inn and Convention Center. Admission is free. … About 800 tickets remain for Virginia.

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