Wednesday, September 3, 2003

Maryland’s beleaguered offense probably won’t get any help against No.11 Florida State on Saturday. Injured running back Bruce Perry and receiver Steve Suter are doubtful despite returning to practice.

Perry and Suter went through individual drills the past two days. Coach Ralph Friedgen rated them “85 percent” yesterday and said each had only a nominal chance of playing.

Perry (high ankle sprain) and Suter (strained hamstring) were injured Aug.5 and missed Maryland’s 20-13 overtime loss to Northern Illinois last Thursday. The Terrapins managed only 112 yards rushing. Running back Josh Allen gained 67 yards on 20 carries in replacing Perry but was essentially neutralized after scoring on an opening possession in which he gained 22 yards on six carries. Friedgen hasn’t lost confidence in Allen despite an early fumble that led to a Northern Illinois field goal.

“Josh made some mistakes he hadn’t been making in practice,” Friedgen said. “In some situations, he didn’t have a whole lot of room to run. I thought he played OK. I didn’t think it was one of his better games. He’s still only a sophomore. He’ll get better.”

Suter is better known as a returner, but the Terps could have used another sure-handed receiver after they dropped several passes against Northern Illinois. Suter gives the Terps a fast third receiver in the slot who keeps defenses from double-teaming outside receivers Jafar Williams and Latrez Harrison, who combined for six catches for 66 yards against the Huskies.

Meanwhile, defensive tackle Justin Duffie is out indefinitely with Crohn’s disease. Defensive tackle Tosin Abari’s status is uncertain after he suffered a shoulder injury on Monday. Guard Lamar Bryant will miss at least two more games with a broken ankle.

Not touchy-feely

The Terps have been running extra laps as part of Friedgen’s tough love program following the opening loss. He’s not into gauging the team’s temperament.

“I’m angry,” he said. “I’m not into their mood too much. They need to be into mine.”

That would be passion. Friedgen’s eyes glistened when he discussed the team’s chances of reaching preseason expectations of a major bowl berth.

“If we’re going to have a season we’re capable of, you have to play with your heart,” he said. “I know this team has it. They’ve done it before. I don’t want us to go down [to Florida State] and play not to lose. I want us to go down there and attack, hold on to the football and play with our hearts. Whatever happens happens after that.”

Horsing around

Friedgen never has beaten Florida State as a coach or assistant. He doesn’t mind playing at Doak Campbell Stadium with 82,300 doing the annoying tomahawk chop, but the Seminoles’ mounted mascot can be distracting.

“It’s a great atmosphere to play as long as they keep that horse away from me,” Friedgen said. “I’ve been dying to throw some Gatorade on him. Don’t throw that spear at me, either.”

Fall from grace

Dropping out of the Associated Press poll after opening 15th drew little reaction from most Terps. Maryland finished 13th last season after spending the final month in the poll. The Terps then opened with their highest preseason ranking since 1985.

“I don’t care about the polls,” Friedgen said. “The only poll that matters to me is the last one. We’ll see where we are then.”

However, receiver Jafar Williams admitted being unranked “always bothers me.”

Friedgen retorted an upset over Florida State would recharge the fans.

“They’re all back in the boat again, right?” he said. “It’s week to week. You’re either in the outhouse or the penthouse. That’s how life is. Keep on truckin’. It won’t change how I approach things.”

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