- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 9, 2005

The Maryland football team will have its starting quarterback as it heads into its final three games, a stretch that will determine whether the Terrapins will return to the postseason after a one-year hiatus.

Sam Hollenbach will start Saturday at North Carolina for Maryland (4-4, 2-3 ACC), his first extended playing time since he suffered a separated collarbone Oct. 20 against Virginia Tech. The Terps must win two of their final three games to become bowl eligible.

“I think after the first drive I’ll be a lot more comfortable,” Hollenbach said. “I just want to get out there and get into it, get the first few plays done with and really know how it feels to be out there.”

The junior played sparingly in an Oct. 29 loss at Florida State, relieving struggling backup Joel Statham late in the first quarter before injuring his back. Hollenbach said his back is no longer a problem.

The collarbone, which Hollenbach said is “sticking up” after the ligaments that hold it down were torn, remains a distraction. Hollenbach is wearing a special set of pads to protect his left (non-throwing) shoulder from further harm, and he said the injury’s recurring aches are more annoying than cumbersome.

“I don’t think he’s like he was before he got hurt, but when I say completely healed I mean he’s back to being able to play at full capacity,” Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen said.

Hollenbach ranked near the top of the ACC in total offense as he led Maryland to a 4-2 start, emerging as a calming influence on the youthful Terps. Even though he has thrown more interceptions (nine) than touchdowns (eight), Hollenbach has drawn praise for his poise in the pocket and his command of the offense.

The Terps will need that Hollenbach for their finishing three-game stretch, which also includes a home date with Boston College and a visit to N.C. State. With the help of some rest and more reps in practice, Hollenbach believes he can regain his early-season form.

“It’s kind of like a mental thing, just being able to feel confident and throwing how I did before,” Hollenbach said. “I still have a little bit of reserve doing that. I think that’s something that’s gotten better each day.”

Meanwhile, left tackle Stephon Heyer confirmed he will remain at Maryland rather than entering the NFL Draft, a decision that should bolster the Terps’ offensive line next season.

The senior tore the ACL in his left knee in early August and was lost for the season.

“I didn’t redshirt my freshman year and I needed this year to show what I can do to go to the NFL,” said Heyer, who was informed he would have been a likely third-round pick by scouts before last year’s draft.

Center Ryan McDonald is the line’s only senior starter, so at least one player will have to move upon Heyer’s return. That could be 6-foot-9, 330-pound freshman left tackle Jared Gaither, who has started the last five games. It could also be Heyer, a prospect the veteran was hesitant about yesterday.

“I’m willing to stay where I am,” said Heyer, who has 25 career starts at left tackle. “I’ve been a left tackle since I’ve been here. I can’t see anything other than that. I’m willing to help the team if need be.”

Notes — Friedgen said little about the suspensions of three players who were involved in a fight at a College Park bar Nov. 1. “They’re behind me and I’m not talking about it anymore. I think we have to focus on football right now.” … Friedgen said receivers Jo Jo Walker and Drew Weatherly are questionable for Saturday. Friedgen said Walker suffered a leg injury in practice last week, while Weatherly is recovering from a concussion. …

Sophomore Dre Moore will start at defensive tackle, replacing Jack Griffin. … Safety Milton Harris, who suffered a concussion at Florida State, will not have contact this week but is expected to play Saturday. Friedgen said tailback Keon Lattimore (shoulder) should also play. … Maryland’s Nov. 19 home game against Boston College will start at noon and be televised locally on Channel 20.

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