- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Maryland quarterback Ryan Mitch may leave the football team today after a late meeting with Terrapins coach Ralph Friedgen delayed his departure.

Mitch didn’t report to practice yesterday after skipping a team meeting Sunday. He told one coach “his heart wasn’t in it” Sunday but met with Friedgen for 45 minutes and offensive coordinator Charlie Taaffe for two hours yesterday. After a 90-minute meeting between Mitch’s mother, Janet, and Friedgen last night, a decision was postponed until today.

Friedgen said he’s willing to retain Mitch. However, his absence may have cost him a chance to win the No.2 job over Jordan Steffy when Maryland plays Northern Illinois on Sept.4. Mitch may opt to transfer to a smaller school.

“If they see they can’t beat out the people in front of them, they usually transfer,” Friedgen said. “That’s not uncommon. They see the light.”

The move was surprising considering Mitch was a serious contender for the backup role. Both he and Steffy played well during summer workouts, but Steffy appeared to have the slight edge after an intrasquad scrimmage Saturday. Steffy completed four of five passes for 55 yards with one touchdown and one interception, while Mitch was 2-for-4 for 36 yards and one touchdown. Sam Hollenbach, Steffy and Mitch will be “2a, b and c” entering the team’s final scrimmage Thursday if Mitch sticks around.

Mitch, the winningest quarterback at DeMatha Catholic High School (29-4), was the only sophomore starting quarterback in Stags coach Bill McGregor’s 21 seasons. He was the Terps’ scout team quarterback as a freshman last season but made substantial improvement during spring drills after becoming more familiar with the offense.

Mitch’s frustration was apparent Sunday when he threw his helmet after making a mistake. He later tossed an 18-yard touchdown pass. Mitch’s biggest problem was handling blitzes that forced quicker decisions.

“Mitch played better this camp than he did this spring,” Friedgen said. “He made a real run for the second-team position. [But] once the blitzing started [in practice], it was the same thing that happened in the spring.”

Almost perfect

Kicker Nick Novak already appears in midseason form. The Terps’ career scoring leader (324 points) converted 15 of 16 field goal attempts during the morning workout. He made 54- and 48-yarders in practice Friday. Friedgen credited the improvement on a drill in which the entire unit performs 10 up-down drills if the kicker misses or takes two seconds to kick. The unit recently did 100 up-downs following the first drill but only 10 yesterday.

“It puts pressure on the holder and snapper and kicker,” Friedgen said. “They learn the true meaning of teamwork. It’s amazing what 10 up-downs will do.”

Extra points

Cornerback Reuben Haigler (hamstring), receiver JoJo Walker (toe), defensive tackle Rob Armstrong (heart, back) and running back Keon Lattimore (shoulder) missed practice, while running back J.P. Humber (shoulder) saw limited time. Lattimore and Humber are awaiting MRI results before deciding whether to have surgery and miss the season. … The Terps committed 82 mental errors offensively and 39 defensively in 157 plays of the intrasquad scrimmage. Missed assignments and wrong routes were the predominate offensive miscues.

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