- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 16, 2003

Maryland has returned to the passing game to counter persistent eight- and nine-man fronts designed to stuff the run.

The Terrapins scaled down their 600-page offensive playbook by allowing quarterback Scott McBrien to leave the pocket to find open passing lanes. Suddenly, McBrien began hitting downfield receivers Derrick Fenner and Latrez Harrison with regularity.

McBrien’s 18-for-32 passing in last week’s 33-20 victory over Duke were season highs for completions and attempts. He also threw three touchdown passes.

“If the pocket gets pushed [inward], then Scott has trouble finding the lanes,” coach Ralph Friedgen said. “That’s when he starts to scramble. He’s not going to throw where he can’t see it’s going.”

Maryland is relying more on McBrien while preparing for Georgia Tech on Oct.23, when the Terps (5-2, 2-1 ACC) will begin their late-season bowl run after an open date. Despite a Peach Bowl MVP performance and a solid spring practice, McBrien had to overcome a slow start. He was only 6-for-18 in the Florida State game and was unimpressive against Northern Illinois and The Citadel. Maryland had to rely on its ACC-leading running game for the first month of the season.

The Terps then faced 3-5-3 defenses by Eastern Michigan and Clemson, both of which stacked extra defenders against the run. Maryland switched to medium-range passes behind the safeties. McBrien has four straight outings of more than 200 yards during the Terps’ five-game winning streak.

“When Scott’s comfortable, he’s pretty good,” offensive coordinator Charlie Taaffe said. “When it’s not clear to him, he hesitates and it doesn’t flow for him.”

Back to work

Maryland plays four games in 43 days after its week off. The Terps returned to practice yesterday following a four-day break after beating Duke. After Georgia Tech, Maryland has nine days before meeting North Carolina and another 12 before a second nationally televised Thursday night game against Virginia.

“It’s definitely something you have to plan for,” Friedgen said. “I kind of like the way it’s falling. If we can win against Georgia Tech and North Carolina, I like that break going into the last three [games].”

Extra points

Maryland’s 2004 home schedule includes Wake Forest, N.C. State, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Northern Illinois and a pending opponent. The Terps travel to Virginia, Virginia Tech, West Virginia, Duke and Clemson. …

Defensive line coach Dave Sollazzo arrived at practice hours after his wife, Ellen, gave birth to a boy. … Friedgen will become the first civilian speaker ever at the District of Columbia Air National Guard Military Ball tonight. He will discuss teamwork’s impact on performance. Friedgen spoke at the Atlanta and Macon, Ga., touchdown clubs earlier this week. … Quarterback Orlando Evans returned after missing one game for personal reasons.

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