- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 7, 2003

Maryland returner Steve Suter will try to play the rest of the season without surgery for the torn meniscus in his left knee.

A dramatic improvement caused Suter to reconsider his fifth knee surgery after playing in Saturday’s 21-7 victory over Clemson. Suter revealed yesterday he first injured the knee in August but didn’t say anything when a subsequent strained hamstring gave him time to recover. However, Suter aggravated the knee against Eastern Michigan on Sept.27.

“I don’t know if I can go through another surgery,” he said. “I think I’ll be able to make it [to seasons end]. I don’t really like doing the whole surgery thing again, and I don’t want to miss any more games. It’s just [a question of] pain tolerance and how much does it swell up.”

Suter expected to have surgery that would have caused him to miss Saturday’s game against Duke because Maryland is off Oct.18. However, the injury can’t be worsened by playing, and the senior didn’t want to risk a longer rehabilitation. Still, he conceded his latest injury has affected his play.

“It’s frustrating,” he said. “Every game you want to go out 100 percent, and when you’re hobbled by an injury, there’s a ball you couldn’t reach because you didn’t have that burst you used to have. Maybe this will help me learn to play with other skills than speed I normally rely on.”

Meanwhile, running back Bruce Perry appears over his high ankle sprain. Still, coach Ralph Friedgen knows it has hampered the 2001 ACC offensive player of the year, who has only 182 yards this season. The senior needs 40 more to reach 2,000 career yards and 457 yards to become No.4 on Maryland’s career rushing list.

“Bruce’s not at 100 percent, but his effort is at 100 percent,” Friedgen said. “I told him, ‘If you’re going to wait around to be perfectly well, the season will be over. When you’re well, you’re playing better than you did in 2001.’ He’s finishing runs off very well. I don’t think he had the juice last year. This year the juice is back when he’s healthy.”

Said fullback Bernie Fiddler: “When Bruce is at full strength, he’s as good as any back in the country.”

Soft shell turtles

The Terps practiced in light pads Monday for the first time this season. Friedgen wanted to provide a breather because of the many minor injuries consistent with midseason. Though the Terps don’t expect to have anyone out against the Blue Devils, the softer practice schedule plus next week’s bye should refreshen Maryland for the final five games.

“I’m all for hitting,” tackle Stephon Heyer said, “but when you have time to look over a defense as complex as Duke’s you have a chance to mentally do it before the physical days.”

Friedgen increased the team’s conditioning after the opening 20-13 overtime loss at Northern Illinois when the Terps tired late.

“To be honest, I thought we lost the Northern illinois game because we weren’t in shape,” he said. “I think I got soft. The guys were [complaining]. That will never happen again.”

No sack attack?

Offensive left tackle Stephon Heyer, who quietly has played well this season, faces ACC sack leader Phillip Alexander this week. The Duke defensive end has six sacks and a conference-best 14 tackles for losses, although he had none in 23 previous games.

“I look for his favorite moves on film,” Heyer said. “I love competition against people who are supposed to be at the top of the league. It’s all about competition.”

Extra points

Running back Sam Maldonado practiced after missing two weeks for violating team rules. … Receivers are dropping 12 percent of passes, twice their norm. … After three straight capacity crowds, Maryland has about 11,000 tickets remaining for Duke. With remaining home games against North Carolina (homecoming) and Virginia (nationally televised Thursday night), it could be Maryland’s only non-sellout this year.

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