- The Washington Times - Friday, October 7, 2005

Maryland quarterback Sam Hollenbach estimates about 100 friends and family will be in attendance today when the Terrapins meet Temple at Philadelphia’s Lincoln Financial Field.

The native of Sellersville, Pa., a Philadelphia suburb, probably didn’t have much trouble obtaining the tickets.

A week after the Terps (3-2) secured an emotional 45-33 victory over then-No. 19 Virginia at a packed Byrd Stadium, they’ll visit a team ranking near the bottom of nearly every statistical category in Division I-A and play in a cavernous professional stadium that probably will be filled to less than 10 percent of its 68,532-seat capacity.

Those factors don’t seem to concern the Terps, who simply want to leave the Linc within two wins of bowl eligibility.

“No matter what the crowd is, no matter who is there, we just want to line up against them, beat them, pick them up, beat them and play and just get the W,” left tackle Jared Gaither said.

That is a welcome attitude for Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen, who spent much of the week warning anyone who would listen of the trouble that could await the Terps. He invoked Virginia Tech’s overtime escape against Temple two years ago to suggest the danger the Owls could present.

“We’re going to play probably in front of four, five thousand people, if that,” Friedgen said. “There’s not going to be a lot of people. It’ll be like a spring scrimmage. If you’re not ready to play and the other team is ready to play, that concerns me.”

Temple (0-5), which was expelled from the Big East after last season and won’t join the Mid-American Conference full-time until 2007, is coming off a 70-7 bludgeoning at Bowling Green, a perfect snapshot of the Owls’ nearly hopeless season. The Owls are surrendering 51.8 points a game, and injuries and ineligibility have reduced Temple to 53 scholarship players in practice, well below the Division I-A maximum of 85.

Friedgen is concerned with the Owls’ defensive front, as well as Temple’s propensity to blitz in last season’s meeting at Byrd Stadium, a 45-22 Maryland victory.

Running back Umar Ferguson is averaging 79 rushing yards, and the Owls’ offensive line is big but lacks experienced depth.

“I’m not really sure what has kept them from winning so many games,” linebacker Trey Covington said. “When I look at who they have there, they don’t have a little league offensive line. It looks like a team that’s going to come up and upset somebody later in the season.”

Temple certainly had opportunities earlier in the season, but it mostly was steamrolled by deeper, more talented teams. The Owls absorbed beatings at Arizona State (63-16) and Wisconsin (65-0), and their best chance to win came two weeks ago when Western Michigan escaped on a last-second field goal.

Meetings with Clemson, Virginia, Navy and both Miamis still await the Owls, and avoiding the program’s first winless season since 1986 is probably Temple’s greatest priority at this point.

“They don’t have anything to lose,” said Wesley Jefferson, who would likely start at middle linebacker if D’Qwell Jackson (leg) misses the game. “They have not a care in the world right now. They’re not trying to win the championship, they’re not trying to do anything spectacular. They want to win the game, and they’ll do anything it takes.”

So will the Terps, whose difficult second-half schedule includes Virginia Tech, Florida State and Boston College. Determined to play in a bowl rather than sit at home during the holidays again, Maryland turned in its most complete game of the season last week against Virginia to help assuage the memory of a 1-2 start.

Following that effort with a similar performance is important to Friedgen, who probably will use today’s game as a barometer for the Terps’ maturity as much as anything else.

“The question is can you get up after everybody is patting you on the back,” Friedgen said. “I told them the same people that are patting you on the back were sticking a knife in your back two weeks ago. The same people. Don’t even worry about them. The only person you have to please is me.”

The offense in particular could enjoy another explosive day. Tailback Lance Ball, who is expected to start today, ran for 163 of the Terps’ season-high 250 yards last week and will face a rush defense allowing 209 yards a game. Hollenbach also could shred a pass defense surrendering 247.6 yards, but he remains wary of overlooking the Owls.

“It’s not like we have everything to lose, but I really think we can’t take this team lightly or we’re going to be embarrassed,” Hollenbach said.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide