- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 27, 2005

RALEIGH, N.C. — The Maryland football team enters the offseason with the same predicament as last season: potential uncertainty at quarterback.

Terrapins coach Ralph Friedgen indicated he would open the competition at the position after Sam Hollenbach committed three turnovers in yesterday’s season-ending 20-14 loss to N.C. State.

Hollenbach had seven turnovers, including five interceptions, in Maryland’s final three games. Four of the miscues were brought back for touchdowns, including Marcus Hudson’s 28-yard interception return yesterday that put N.C. State ahead 17-7.

“We definitely have to get things squared away with the quarterback,” Friedgen said. “That can’t go on. Some changes are going to be made somewhere if you keep throwing interceptions all the time. It just can’t happen. It’s a weekly occurrence. We have more interceptions in two years than in the history of football.”

To be fair to Hollenbach — and offer an excuse the junior has refused to make in the last month — his play grew more erratic after he separated his collarbone Oct.20 against Virginia Tech. He clearly wasn’t as comfortable in the pocket upon his return.

He also was harassed by strong defensive lines in the final three games, especially yesterday. N.C. State sacked him seven times and forced a fumble that led to a fourth-quarter field goal.

“We struggled all day, and we have to get Sam more time if he wants to make completions,” left guard Donnie Woods said. “It was just an upfield battle all day.”

Those factors didn’t stop Friedgen from saying there probably would be a quarterback competition in spring practice for the third consecutive season. Hollenbach all but won the job last spring after starting last year’s regular-season finale, and he might have to do it again.

“Yeah, probably so,” Friedgen said. “We can’t have a quarterback playing the way he did the last three games.”

The primary in-house candidates to press for the starting spot are junior Joel Statham, who made 10 starts last season but attempted only 36 passes this season, and sophomore Jordan Steffy, who redshirted this season. No other quarterback in the program has attempted a pass.

Hollenbach finished the season with 13 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. He completed 61 percent of his passes.

“It’s pretty clear the mistakes that I make are mistakes that hurt us and hurt the team in a big way,” Hollenbach said. “Those are things I need to cut down. Quarterbacks are really measured by their consistency, and it doesn’t matter how good you are if you have two or three bad plays a game and you can’t win the game.”

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