- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen is worried the Terrapins won’t show up for a showdown.

A New Year’s Day bowl and second place in the ACC are still possible for Maryland (7-3, 4-2 ACC), which visits N.C. State (7-4, 4-3) on Saturday. Maryland likely would get a spot in the Gator Bowl on Jan.1 if it beats N.C. State and Wake Forest (5-6, 3-4) on Nov.29. Otherwise, the Terps could fall into a four-way tie for second, with Maryland perhaps falling to the Tangerine Bowl on Dec.22.

The Terps seemed in peak form after a dominating 27-17 victory over Virginia on Nov.13 for its second straight victory and seventh in eight games. An offense that managed only a field goal in a 7-3 loss at Georgia Tech on Oct.23 rebounded with a 59-21 win over North Carolina on Nov.1 before downing Virginia. Quarterback Scott McBrien and running back Josh Allen delivered career performances in consecutive games.

But Friedgen was upset after a lethargic practice Monday followed by a “good” workout yesterday. The crispness of the previous two weeks was missing.

“We have to understand what we’re getting ourselves into,” Friedgen said. “We weren’t practicing with the same intensity and same precision that we’ve been practicing.”

The Terps have sorely tested Friedgen. He felt the preseason practices were too soft, and Maryland opened 0-2. The Terps downscaled the offense and won five straight despite some lackluster efforts. McBrien’s early concussion left Maryland virtually offenseless at Georgia Tech, but the team rebounded with two of its better efforts. Now Friedgen feels the team returned from a three-day break “sluggish” before it responded to motivational music yesterday.

Meanwhile, running back Bruce Perry is probable after practicing the past two days. Friedgen rated Perry “90 percent” after missing one game with a sprained ankle. Receiver Latrez Harrison (knee) practiced, but linebacker Shawne Merriman is questionable after suffering a concussion against Virginia. Merriman will undergo an MRI today.

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