- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 14, 2005

Maryland offensive tackle Stephon Heyer sprained his left knee yesterday, leaving the Terrapins uncertain whether their best lineman will be ready for their opening game against Navy on Sept.3.

Heyer was injured during a blocking drill in the morning session when he was knocked down by linebacker Rick Costa. The Terps are awaiting results of a MRI exam on Heyer’s MCL to determine the length of his absence. However, even a modest sprain could cost him two weeks.

Compounding Heyer’s loss was the loss of fellow offensive tackle Scott Burley, who left practice with back pain that traveled down both legs. Burley, who might have moved from right to left tackle to replace Heyer, is day-to-day. Redshirt freshman Dane Randolph worked with the starters after playing defensive end last year.

“I’m just hoping [Heyer’s] not hurt too badly,” coach Ralph Friedgen said. “We’ll give more reps to [Jared] Gaither and Dane Randolph and get them better, and maybe in the end we’ll be a better team.”

The Terps also lost fullback Matt Deese for two weeks after he underwent arthroscopic knee surgery Friday.

Heat wave

The Terps adjusted to the near triple-digit heat during their first two-a-day practices by moving the second to early evening. The team took extra water breaks over the first week and ended practices with popsicles or watermelon.

With 58 true or redshirt freshmen, Friedgen also has given players more time off between workouts to acclimate to the intense workouts. Fewer players have suffered cramping because of dehydration this year.

Revamping the offense has caused practices to run longer than normal, though. Friedgen has tried to limit workouts to 2 hours to avoid heat-related problems, and several ended early because of the weather. Friedgen tries to balance conditioning against expanding the playbook.

“When the heat is up, it makes it difficult to concentrate,” Friedgen said. “I could cut back and have the practice run a little smoother, but when we play Navy, we’re going to play on [artificial] turf [at Baltimore’s M&T; Bank Stadium] that I’m sure will be pretty hot then, too. We have to just push through it.

“They get in a survivor mode where they just try to go through the motions instead of running the play the way it needs to be run. I’m looking for effort right now — who’s going to deal with this and work through it and give effort rather than just try to sustain themselves. I’ll try to keep my poise. These are young kids that are learning, but the closer the game gets the more difficult it gets [to be patient].”

Passing fancies

Quarterback Sam Hollenbach remains the clear No.1. However, last year’s starter, Joel Statham, continues to improve after a turnover-plagued season, and third-stringer Jordan Steffy is pressing through chronic knee and arm soreness.

“Joel’s competing very hard — he’s not letting up at all,” Friedgen said. “And Jordan, for the lack of work he had in spring practice, is doing better than I thought he’d do.”

Same old huddle

Friedgen expects some extreme noise at road games this season, which nearly made him reorganize the huddle. The coach considered changing from the traditional circle to two lines with backs in front of linemen, which was used by the Terps in the mid-1980s.

“I thought there were times we had trouble hearing, especially at away games,” Friedgen said. “I wanted to make a huddle where everybody was closer … so the quarterback could get right up in there. But the coaches didn’t think that was the problem.”

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