- The Washington Times - Monday, September 15, 2003

Maryland has its groove back, but are the Terrapins ready to waltz through the soft center of their schedule?

The 61-0 rout over The Citadel on Saturday regained Maryland’s confidence after an 0-2 start. The Terps also began last year at 1-2 before winning eight straight. Coach Ralph Friedgen hopes the self-doubts are past after the easy win allowed Maryland to use 72 players.

“I didn’t see us playing tight,” he said yesterday. “Hopefully, they like the feeling they have right now. Hopefully, they have their confidence back and let’s go on with the year.”

Maryland plays host to West Virginia (1-2) on Saturday. The Terps beat the Mountaineers 48-17 last year in what was considered their breakout game. The intense rivalry could again launch Maryland given the victory over The Citadel is tempered by the latter being an outmatched Division I-AA opponent. Against West Virginia, the Terps will see if they’re truly ready for another bowl run.

“I’m sure they’re going to fly high and want revenge for last year,” Friedgen said. “All of a sudden, it was 28-0 in the first quarter. I don’t know who was more surprised — us or West Virginia.”

Friedgen already has barred interviews with quarterback Scott McBrien, who transferred from West Virginia after playing 10 games in 2000. Friedgen wants to lessen pressure on the senior, but McBrien said on Saturday that he no longer considers it a personal duel.

“Last year was the big buildup,” he said. “I was going back to Morgantown, and play in front of fans that either loved me or hated me. I think this team is over that. It was a one time thing. We’re treating it like a normal game. I still have a lot of close friends in Morgantown. It is fun playing against them, but it’s something I can’t think about.”

Friedgen doesn’t believe it, though. McBrien scored on a 21-yard run and threw a 45-yard touchdown pass against West Virginia last year after struggling early in the season.

“It will always be a big deal for Scott and for West Virginia,” Friedgen said. “I’m sure he has a lot of friends on that team. I’m sure there’s a natural rivalry between us because we’re bordering states, but Scott transferred from there and done well here so there’s some extra added motivation.”

The Terps need continued improvement from McBrien after a surprisingly slow start. McBrien hasn’t thrown a touchdown pass, missing several opportunities against The Citadel. He did score on a 1-yard run against the Bulldogs and finished 12 of 20 for 178 yards before being rested after halftime.

“There were some plays I could see why he didn’t do it,” Friedgen said. “I thought he was much more decisive in his actions. I thought he made some very good throws. We just have to keep building on that.”

Maryland hopes to regain right guard Lamar Bryant today after he missed three games with a broken foot. Bryant will have a limited practice as the Terps plan to start Ryan Flynn for the second straight game.

The Terps don’t expect running back Bruce Perry (high ankle sprain) for another week. However, 202 rushing yards and three touchdowns combined in the first half from Josh Allen and Sammy Maldonado has Maryland less anxious for Perry’s return.

Friedgen said Maldonado needs to run straight ahead instead of stretching outside after he gained 66 yards on 12 carries with two touchdowns. The Ohio State transfer who missed last season has earned the nickname “Sammy the Bull” from teammates for his rugged style.

“When he goes north-south, he’s ‘Sammy the Bull,’” Friedgen said. “When he goes east-west, he’s ‘Ferdinand the bull.’”

Returner Steve Suter said he’s not completely over a strained hamstring that sidelined him a month. Suter vomited after scoring on a 75-yard punt return, but the nervous stomach has been a pregame tradition.

“I get frustrated with myself when I see a hole I can hit if I was full speed,” he said. “Somebody gets up on me because I can’t get through it. I have to work through it. I have to get strength and endurance back in my legs.”

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