- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 22, 2005

Maryland quarterback Sam Hollenbach’s sprained shoulder could force him to miss the Terrapins’ game at No. 11 Florida State next week.

Hollenbach suffered a sprained AC joint in his non-throwing shoulder in Thursday’s 28-9 loss to the third-ranked Hokies, and coach Ralph Friedgen is uncertain of Hollenbach’s status for next week’s game. Friedgen does not expect the junior to practice before Wednesday.

“It depends on what he can do Wednesday,” Friedgen said yesterday. “If he can have a full practice Wednesday, he’ll [probably play]. If he can’t, then I think we’ll have to make a decision on that.”

Hollenbach appeared to suffer the injury on a 22-yard option keeper in the first quarter. Virginia Tech’s Vince Hall tackled Hollenbach, who landed on his left shoulder.

He didn’t leave the game, though backup Joel Statham warmed up while Hollenbach was examined between Maryland possessions. Hollenbach completed 14 of 30 passes for a season-low 158 yards against the Hokies and threw a touchdown and two interceptions. He also ran the option keeper, one of the Terps’ more effective plays, a few more times despite the injury.

“We were trying to do what we had to do to win the football game,” Friedgen said. “Sam, to his credit, didn’t flinch at all and really earned a lot of my admiration.”

If Hollenbach is unavailable against the Seminoles, Maryland (4-3, 2-2 ACC) could turn to Statham, who started the first 10 games last season before losing his job to Hollenbach. Statham has played in just one game this season, completing three of six passes for 24 yards in the fourth quarter of the Terps’ rout of Temple.

Friedgen said sophomore Jordan Steffy, who appeared in six games last year and has not played this season is the Terps’ No. 3 quarterback, also could compete for the start if Hollenbach is out.

“We’re going to try to redshirt [Steffy], but that doesn’t mean we’re going to if we need him,” Friedgen said. “He needs to understand that, too.”

Hollenbach’s injury added to the concerns of a team left to balance squandering turnovers — and ultimately, an upset possibility — against its ability to badger the nation’s third-ranked team for three quarters.

The Maryland defense enjoyed some promising moments Thursday, forcing four turnovers and taking away the inside rushing game and the deep pass. The unit was energized by the raucous gathering of 54,838 — the second-largest in Byrd Stadium history — and did everything early on except contain quarterback Marcus Vick, who ran for a career-high 133 yards. Maryland eventually grew weary, but the game provided hope the program could knock off a highly regarded team even if the final score didn’t suggest it.

“They’re the No.3 team in the nation and it doesn’t get much better than that,” cornerback Josh Wilson said. “We can play anybody. We just need to go out there and show people we can play with anybody.”

Some recurring problems have hampered the Terps’ ability to do so, and Maryland struggled in many of the same ways Thursday as it did during a two-game losing streak in mid-September. The Terps converted four of 15 third-down attempts, a problem that vexed Friedgen as much then as it does now. They also ran for only 96 yards, with only sophomore Lance Ball rushing with any consistency.

And there were the missed scoring chances, which were surprisingly plentiful against the suddenly generous Hokies. Maryland managed three points off Tech’s four turnovers, and it didn’t score on two of its three trips inside the Hokies’ 20.

Those trends cannot continue in the season’s final month, which includes the team’s home finale against No. 13 Boston College sandwiched between trips to North Carolina and N.C. State.

What figures to be the toughest remaining test — the trip to Florida State, where the Terps have never won — looms in seven days. A victory in Tallahassee would be even more unlikely without Hollenbach, who entered the week as the ACC leader in total offense.

“We have to put it to bed. We have another tough game. We have to get back up. That’s my biggest concern, how we get this team back up to play,” Friedgen said. “We have four games left and three of them on the road and we have to win two to become bowl eligible. If we can win the next four, we’re still in this [ACC] race. But we can’t lose anymore.”

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