- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 10, 2005

Wind sprints are the scourge of football practices. Bodies sore from banging for more than two hours rebel against running as hard as possible repeatedly across the field. Anything else is preferable to this torture.

Naturally, Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen orders sprints regularly. They toughen character and simulate fourth-quarter drives. Most importantly, they win games.

When Friedgen made players run sprints this week while getting ready for Clemson (1-0) today at Byrd Stadium, their reaction spoke deeply to him.

“I said, ‘These wind sprints helped you win the football game [23-20 over Navy in last Saturday’s opener]. In the fourth quarter when you had to have it, you had it,’ ” Friedgen said. “They ran them harder than they did before.”

For Maryland, the magic of 2001 may be back. Friedgen’s first team won the ACC championship after being picked eighth. They were hungry, and that desire lasted for three years and 31 victories.

But the Terrapins got lazy last year. Friedgen admits it. Players admit it. They fell to 5-6 largely through poor chemistry and lack of commitment. They thought winning would always be there. They found success can disappear quickly.

Now the stars of the early Friedgen years are gone. The Terps are left with a lot of unknowns who are listening to their coach.

“There’s a lot of little things about this team I’m really enjoying,” Friedgen said. “It’s a team that is a little bit like the first team I had [at Maryland]. They want to be good. They’re searching for how to be good. This win would really help them grow up. They’re going to have to play better than last week to win this one.”

Knocking off Navy was important to Maryland for local pride after not playing its Annapolis rival for 40 years. Trailing 14-3 early, Maryland rallied to win with 61 seconds remaining, and the victory showed the young team won’t back down.

Avenging a controversial loss last year at Clemson is next. The Terps fell 10-7 at Death Valley when one official called three penalties on Maryland cornerback Gerrick McPherson, including pass interference in the end zone, to essentially decide the game.

McPherson said afterward the referee smiled at him after throwing the final flag. ACC officials later told Friedgen the call was incorrect, but Maryland missed its fourth straight bowl trip because of the loss.

“That’s not something we’ve forgotten about,” quarterback Sam Hollenbach said.

Friedgen says he’ll use the blown flag as motivation. That’s easy. The hard part is not letting revenge become the only rallying point. Maryland needs home victories during the early part of its season to return to a bowl. West Virginia comes to Byrd next week after edging Maryland in overtime last year. Revenge will figure then, too, if the Terps have any adrenaline left.

“There’s a lot of things that bothered me last year,” Friedgen said. “If I start rehashing them, I’ll go nuts. That’s over and done with. It’s time to go on and worry about things we can make different now. … Any time we play Clemson it’s a rivalry. Last year’s game isn’t going to help [us] any.”

Friedgen was not pleased with Wednesday’s practice and extended it 40 minutes to stretch the workout to nearly three hours. There was no complaining, though. The Terps can’t afford a letdown after beating Navy, so they’re willing once more to do the necessary extra work — even wind sprints.

“Kids don’t have trouble getting overconfident with me,” Friedgen said. “I always try to keep the heat on them. I think it’s a great motivator.”

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