- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 26, 2003

A concussion slowed down Maryland quarterback Scott McBrien. Strangely, his three best games have followed.

McBrien enters Saturday’s regular-season finale at Wake Forest renewed by increased patience. He’s no longer forcing passes while finding alternate receivers. His mechanics have improved on deep passes. Suddenly, he’s delivering the kind of high performance coach Ralph Friedgen expected him to all season.

Against N.C. State last week, McBrien rallied Maryland from a 24-10 deficit in the final 6:23 with a 10-yard touchdown pass, 2-yard scoring run and a short drive to set up the winning field goal. Each possession was 2:30 or less.

“We were struggling a bit, and I put my arm around him and said, ‘Everything is going 100 mph right now. You just need to slow it down, focus in and relax and just go out and play,’” Friedgen said. “I think he responds better to that.”

Overshadowed beforehand by N.C. State quarterback Philip Rivers’ final game, McBrien outdueled the likely ACC Player of the Year. McBrien finished 17 of 37 for 243 yards with two touchdowns while Rivers was 16 of 30 for 276 yards and one interception. A series of precision throws in the fourth quarter, when he went 5-for-7, was McBrien’s finest stretch this season.

“The throw he made to Rich Parson and the catch Rich made was unbelievable,” Friedgen said. “Rich was pretty much covered. The throw to Jo Jo Walker was another great throw, and the option [for a touchdown run] was a great read. When the money was on the line, Scott McBrien was there.”

McBrien has been the unquestioned leader of the Terps even when struggling. While the offensive line and running backs have been plagued by injuries, McBrien steadily improved after he stopped worrying about carrying the offense. Since leaving with a concussion in the second quarter of a 7-3 loss at Georgia Tech on Oct.23, he has played “careless” to eliminate pressure. The Terps (8-3, 5-2 ACC) have won three straight behind McBrien’s seven touchdowns and no interceptions.

“The thing about Scott is confidence,” Parson said. “When he’s confident, he can play with the best. He outplayed Philip Rivers in the fourth quarter.

McBrien will end his career against his former West Virginia team in the Gator Bowl on Jan.1. McBrien is 2-0 against the Mountaineers, including a 34-7 victory Sept.20, when he completed 14 of 25 for 220 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

Notes — Running back Josh Allen (sprained ankle), receiver Latrez Harrison (strained groin) are doubtful, while cornerback Curome Cox (sprained knee) and tight end Jeff Dugan (concussion) are probable for the Wake Forest game.

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