- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Maryland returner Steve Suter will undergo knee surgery to repair torn cartilage, but the Terrapins hope he first can play against Clemson on Saturday.

The Terps will re-evaluate Suter today before deciding whether he can withstand the pain to play in what could be a close game. Otherwise, Suter, who has not practiced the past two days after injuring his left knee during last week’s 37-13 victory over Eastern Michigan, will undergo surgery immediately.

“Big game — gotta see if I can play,” Suter said. “You can’t make it worse. You just have to see if you can tolerate it.”

Suter will miss at least two weeks after the surgery, but the absence won’t be so noticeable. Maryland will be a heavy favorite against Duke on Oct.11, then doesn’t play until Oct. 23 at Georgia Tech. JoJo Walker again will replace Suter on returns, while several players could sub at receiver.

Teammates aren’t too concerned about Suter’s injury in the short term.

“We have so many people we believe can be playmakers,” cornerback Domonique Foxworth said. “JoJo can be just as good as Steve but hasn’t had the opportunity. As much as we love Steve, we’re not nervous about losing any power.”

Injuries have bedeviled the Terps’ offense since camp began nearly two months ago. Suter missed nearly a month with a strained hamstring but had a 75-yard punt return for a touchdown against The Citadel. Suter’s quickness makes him a favorite for quick slants and downfield plays, and his 45-yard reception led to a field goal shortly before halftime against Eastern Michigan that gave Maryland renewed momentum.

Still, Suter hasn’t been as effective this season because opposing coverage units have targeted him effectively. Suter often has received little time to set up a punt return. He’s averaging 10.1 yards on punt returns and 19.8 on kickoff returns, while Walker has averaged 13.6 and 22.8.

“Their gunners are really working to get down there,” coach Ralph Friedgen said. “Steve’s a marked man.”

Meanwhile, running back Bruce Perry (high ankle sprain) and defensive end Scott Smith (back) remain questionable after being limited in practice. Guard Lamar Bryant (hand) is probable after working out.

Running back Sam Maldonado remains suspended for at least one more game but was running around the practice field.

Outta there

Safety Dennard Wilson was dismissed from practice Monday after heatedly arguing a call with Friedgen, who was officiating the two-minute drill. It has the most contact of any practice scheme, and defensive players often think Friedgen favors the offense.

“Just like any offensive coach, they always think the offense is right. I got a little upset,” Wilson said. “I tried to make a play on the ball, and he calls pass interference. It wasn’t something I would do in the game, but I’m trying to bring game intensity to the practice field, and sometimes tempers flare.”

Friedgen said he tossed Wilson to show the limits to which players can contest calls.

“It wasn’t that he was being disrespectful to me,” Friedgen said. “You can’t lose your head like that whether you agree or disagree with the call. … He was just being competitive. Sometimes I worry about that drill being too competitive because I don’t want to get anybody hurt in it, but it’s amazing what we learn in that drill.”

Family ties

It’s bad enough when a coach played against a player’s father. Now Friedgen, 56, faces the son of a player he also coached against. Clemson quarterback Charlie Whitehurst is the son of David Whitehurst, who played at Furman when Friedgen was an assistant at The Citadel from 1977 to 1979.

“I hate to bring that up,” Friedgen said. “When you’re coaching against the second generation, you’re starting to get up there.”

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