Tag Archive | "Ralph Friedgen"

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Friedgen returning for 11th season as Terps coach

Posted on 18 November 2010 by Luke Jones

In a season many thought would be his last in College Park, Ralph Friedgen has led the Terps to a surprising 7-3 record and the precipice of the Atlantic Division crown with wins in their final two games.

And that was good enough for new athletic director Kevin Anderson.

In a statement released by the University of Maryland Thursday, Anderson announced Friedgen would return for his 11th season as Terrapins coach in 2011.

“Based largely on the improved performance of our team and student-athletes this season, Coach Friedgen will be our head football coach next year,” Anderson said. “Once this season is complete, [Friedgen] and I will sit down to discuss the current state and future of the program. Right now, the team’s focus will be on winning the 2010 ACC Championship and a bowl game, which our coaching staff and student-athletes have put themselves in position to do. We hope our fans, students, and alums will come out and support us in the effort.”

The near $2 million owed to Friedgen in the final year of his contract played a major part in the decision, as the school has made no secret about the program’s financial programs with unsold suites in the recently-renovated Tyser Tower and poor attendance in recent seasons. His contract expires on Jan. 2, 2012, the same date current offensive coordinator James Franklin will become head coach or receive $1 million from the school.

The Terps became bowl-eligible in a 62-14 victory over Wake Forest on Oct. 30 and clinched a winning season with a 42-23 win at Virginia last Saturday. Maryland will advance to the ACC title game with wins over Florida State and N.C. State in their final two games of the regular season, both at Byrd Stadium.

“I’m excited about the direction of our program,” Friedgen said in a statement. “We have a great bunch of kids and a tremendous staff. I’m thankful for all the hard work they have put into this season. Right now, we’re just concentrating on Florida State.”

The Terps will host Florida State 8 p.m. Saturday night in a game televised regionally on ABC.

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A Turtle Power weekend ahead at WNST.net

Posted on 18 November 2010 by Luke Jones

With three buses of Ravens fans flocking to Charlotte this weekend on the Miller Lite Purple Football Roadtrip (check out our Purple Pep Rallies if you’re making the trip), it’s easy to overlook a huge upcoming weekend for Maryland basketball and football.

Tonight, Gary Williams’ Terrapins arrive at the Mecca of Basketball, otherwise known as Madison Square Garden, for the championship rounds of the 2K Sports Classic benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer. After winning their first three games against undistinguished competition, the new-look Terps face a major test against No. 5 Pittsburgh.

Sophomore center Jordan Williams is off to a sensational start (averaging 21.0 points and 13.7 rebounds per game) and will need another big night for the underdog Terps to knock off the Panthers.

The game can be seen at 7:00 p.m. on ESPN2, so we’ll have the Turtle Power live chat open at WNST.net to discuss the happenings from the Garden.

The winner faces the victor of Illinois/Texas in the Championship Game Friday evening at 7:00 p.m. while the losers face off in the Consolation Game at 5:00 p.m. (both games airing on ESPN2). Regardless of the Terps’ fate against the Panthers, the Turtle Power chat will be open for business during Maryland’s Friday game.

Despite early optimism surrounding Maryland basketball, neither game will compare to the atmosphere at Byrd Stadium Saturday night as Ralph Friedgen’s surprising Terps (7-3, 4-2 ACC) host Florida State at 8:00 p.m. on ABC.

Freshman quarterback Danny O’Brien (16 TD, 4 INT) has led the dramatic turnaround of a team picked to finish last in the Atlantic Division after a disastrous 2-10 season a year ago. Maryland controls its own destiny in the division with home games against the Seminoles and N.C. State to close the regular season. Should the Terps win both, they advance to the ACC Championship game on Dec. 4 at Bank of America Stadium — a place many of you will be visiting this weekend — in Charlotte.

I’ll be reporting live from Byrd Stadium in College Park, so plan to join us in a BLACKOUT version of the Turtle Power chat at 8:00 Saturday night as the Terps continue their improbable march toward the conference championship game!

If you love the Terps as much as we do, stay with WNST.net throughout the weekend, leading into our coverage live from Charlotte on Sunday when the Ravens take on the hapless Carolina Panthers!

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Terps end Charlottesville horrors in 42-23 win over Virginia

Posted on 13 November 2010 by Luke Jones

Ralph Friedgen and the Terps weren’t taking their latest trip to Charlottesville for granted, and how could they?

With their Atlantic Division title hopes still in their own hands and having lost eight of their last nine at Scott Stadium, Maryland used a 21-point fourth quarter to take care of business in a convincing 42-23 win over the Cavaliers Saturday night.

Freshman running back D.J. Adams scored three touchdowns and freshman quarterback Danny O’Brien tossed two scores and ran for one, as the Terps improved to 7-3 overall and 4-2 in the ACC, setting up a primetime battle against Florida State in College Park next week.

We’ve doubted the Terrapins all season, because of a soft schedule and the fresh memory of a 2-10 record in 2009, but it’s time to start giving credit where it’s due. Issues remain for the Maryland football program that won’t be resolved overnight — the future of the coaching staff at the top of the list — but Friedgen has this group playing efficient, opportunistic football.

Recent history made it easy to envision the Terps falling flat against the Cavaliers after a heartbreaking 26-20 loss at Miami last week, a game in which the freshman O’Brien played the worst game of his young career and the defense struggled throughout the afternoon and folded on the final drive.

Instead, O’Brien threw for 289 yards against a formidable Virginia pass defense, including fourth-quarter touchdown passes to Torrey Smith (7 catches for 157 yards) and Da’Rel Scott that transformed a two-point deficit through three quarters into a comfortable 19-point win. The Terps went 6-for-6 inside the red zone to account for their 42 points.

Don Brown’s defense struggled to pressure Virginia quarterback Marc Verica and surrendered 20 first-half points, but held the Cavaliers to just a field goal after intermission and picked off Verica twice in a stout second-half effort.

As they have throughout the season, the Terps limited their mistakes (no turnovers) unlike the Cavaliers who committed 16 penalties for 145 yards and two second-half turnovers.

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In many ways, Saturday’s win was a microcosm of how improbable this season has been. Who would have guessed Adams — who totaled just two carries all season against teams not named Morgan State and Wake Forest — would cure Maryland’s struggles inside the red zone with three touchdown runs from inside the 10?

And who would have predicted this team would snap a three-game losing streak against Virginia and win for only the second time in Maryland’s last 10 trips to Charlottesville, a place of horrors for over a decade? As we saw two years ago when the Terps went there as a two-touchdown favorite and were lambasted 31-0, a win over the Cavaliers can never be taken for granted, even with Virginia’s 4-6 record in 2010.

Whether you’re a believer in Friedgen and the current staff, or one of the many shouting for drastic change to a program that’s fallen on difficult times over the last several years, it’s time to acknowledge this is a pretty good football team — at least how it relates to a soft ACC — and credit a group of players determined to put a disastrous 2009 season behind them.

Maryland will undoubtedly be a home underdog next Saturday when the Seminoles invade Byrd Stadium with the Atlantic Division up for grabs (N.C. State is also very much in the picture), but this Florida State team isn’t one of the unbeatable squads coached by Bobby Bowden in the mid-90s. If the Terps play mistake-free football as they have so often this year, it’s not impossible envisioning a victory at Byrd Stadium, which will hopefully be packed to support an unlikely success story.

Regardless of what happens in their final two games against Florida State and N.C. State, Friedgen and the Terps are playing with house money after reaching the seven-win plateau and assuring themselves of a bowl game in a season in which they were picked to finish last in the Atlantic Division.

Friedgen spoke two weeks ago about his team reaching its “minimum” goal of bowl eligibility after picking up its sixth win of the season against Wake Forest. With Saturday’s win at Virginia, the Terps kept themselves in position for their maximum goal of an ACC Championship.

While it still seems unlikely, it’s becoming more conceivable every week.

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Maryland lets one slip through fingers in 26-20 loss to Miami

Posted on 06 November 2010 by Luke Jones

Opportunistic is a word we’ve used often to describe this year’s Terps, largely because we’re still trying to figure out just how good they really are after nine games.

And there Maryland was again, only seconds away from an unlikely 20-18 victory at Sun Life Stadium over a Miami team that had thoroughly dominated the Terrapins in nearly every statistical category. It was setting up to be the biggest win in two years for a program trying to erase the memory of a 2-10 season a year ago. A defensive score, some favorable officiating, and two botched extra points by the Hurricanes appeared to be just enough for the Terps to steal a victory they really didn’t deserve.

Unlike their win against Navy on Labor Day, however, the Terps defense couldn’t make a play to seal it as Miami quarterback Stephen Morris threw a 35-yard touchdown strike to Leonard Hankerson with 37 seconds left, giving Miami a 26-20 victory and leaving the Terps (6-3, 3-2 ACC) wondering what had hit them.

While the loss does little to hurt Maryland’s goal of winning the Atlantic Division and playing in the ACC Championship game in Jacksonville (the Terps still control their own destiny, unlikely as it might be), you have to wonder about the effect it will have on the psyche of a team building momentum after a road victory at Boston College and a 62-14 drubbing of Wake Forest on Homecoming last week.

Saturday’s loss looked an awful lot like the excruciating losses from last season in which the Terps did just enough to lose, regardless of the competition. Don Brown’s defense was gashed for 504 yards despite two Alex Wujciak interceptions — one returned for a 60-yard interception. The Hurricanes (6-3, 4-2 ACC) beat them to the edge countless times on running plays, and when Terps defenders did manage to get to the spot, they couldn’t tackle the ball carrier anyway.

On the final Miami drive, defensive lineman Joe Vellano drew a roughing-the-passer penalty, giving the Hurricanes the ball at the 50-yard line and making the job of the freshman quarterback much easier. Four plays later, Hankerson slipped behind Dexter McDougle and Kenny Tate for the game-winning touchdown catch.

It was an ugly relapse for a group that had been allowing just 19.8 points per game, 26th in the nation.

The Terps offense did few favors for an exhausted defense, managing to hold the ball for only 22:41 as quarterback Danny O’Brien played his worst game of the season. The redshirt freshman was just 9 of 27 for 134 yards, throwing a touchdown against one interception. Arguably the biggest reason for the team’s turnaround, O’Brien uncharacteristically looked the part of a freshman Saturday as he was outplayed by the inexperienced — but highly-touted — Morris (a true freshman), who was playing for the injured Jacory Harris.

Maryland had a golden opportunity following Wujciak’s second interception that set up the offense inside the red zone late in the third quarter. Two plays later, O’Brien badly underthrew LaQuan Williams at the goal line as the pass was picked off by Miami’s Ray-Ray Armstrong.

On the Terps’ next drive after they had moved the ball to the Miami 6, O’Brien misfired on two attempts, forcing the offense to settle for a field goal to take a two-point lead.

It even looked for a moment like the Maryland offense would be the group to make the fatal mistake as the Terps were trying to retake the lead in the fourth quarter. O’Brien fumbled after being leveled by linebacker Ramon Buchanan. It was returned for an apparent touchdown by Marcus Robinson before a mysterious facemask penalty was called on the Hurricanes, negating the score and giving Maryland a first down and the go-ahead field goal in the fourth.

Truthfully, both teams did plenty to lose on Saturday — Miami committed 10 penalties for 100 yards — but the Terps simply didn’t make enough plays in a very winnable game over a banged-up, vulnerable Hurricanes team.

Ralph Friedgen spoke last week about his team only reaching the minimum when the Terps became bowl-eligible last week after earning their sixth victory. Time will reveal where Maryland ends up in terms of their bowl destination, but Saturday’s loss hurts with an always-interesting trip to Charlottesville looming next week, followed by home meetings with Florida State and North Carolina State to close out the regular season.

Neither Maryland nor Miami looked very deserving of a win, but the Terps let one slip through their fingers. Instead of being opportunistic as they had been for much of the year, their performance was more wasteful than anything.

Where they go from here will tell how much they’ve really grown as a team.

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Terps quarterback O’Brien playing well beyond years

Posted on 30 October 2010 by Luke Jones

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — If you glanced up at the scoreboard Saturday evening, you might have wondered how Ralph Friedgen and the Terps managed to schedule Morgan State for a second time this season.

Maryland (6-2, 3-1 ACC) dominated all facets of the game in a 62-14 victory over a Wake Forest team (2-6, 1-4 ACC) that looked more like an FCS school than an ACC rival. The win makes the Terps bowl-eligible for the first time since 2008 — and after the first 10-loss season in the history of the program.

A soft schedule makes it difficult to figure out how improved the Terps really are — though a 48-point victory over a conference opponent will raise a few eyebrows at least — but the next four weeks will provide a clearer picture with the Terps taking on two teams currently ranked in the Top 25. We have to acknowledge the Terps, at the very least, are winning all the games they’re supposed to, a concept Maryland has struggled with in recent seasons.

Special teams play and and a emphasis on taking better care of the football have been major factors in the turnaround, but there’s no questioning one area in which the Terps have improved dramatically.

The quarterback position, with Danny O’Brien under center.

“He’s very intelligent,” Friedgen said. “He’s like a sponge, wanting to soak up experiences. He doesn’t get rattled if he makes a mistake, which is really quite a quality in a redshirt freshman. I think he’s going to continue to get better. I really do.”

Despite junior Jamarr Robinson beginning the season as the starter, the redshirt freshman O’Brien has seized control of the job more emphatically than any quarterback in College Park since early in the Friedgen era with Shaun Hill and Scott McBrien. He plays the opposite of what you expect from a freshman quarterback, taking care of the football (only three interceptions) and completing the throws the defense gives him (13 touchdowns).

Those three interceptions came in the fourth quarter at Clemson after the Terps had fallen hopelessly behind, eventually falling 31-7 in Death Valley. It was a rare time in which O’Brien looked the part of a freshman quarterback trying to force throws and making mistakes.

Entering Saturday’s game, O’Brien already held the freshman record for touchdown passes (nine) and added to that mark Saturday with four touchdown strikes despite being replaced by Robinson halfway through the third quarter with the game getting out of hand quickly in the second half. It was the most in one game by a Maryland quarterback since Joel Statham — one of several quarterbacks to frustrate the fan base over the last seven years — threw four at Duke on Sept. 25, 2004.

O’Brien finished the day completing 13 of 20 passes for 168 yards with the four passing scores to Torrey Smith, Quintin McCree, Haroon Brown, and LaQuan Williams. The young quarterback completed passes to eight different receivers in what’s becoming a trademark in his performances, diversifying the passing game and using a talented receiving unit that has been underutilized in recent years.

“Just getting into the flow of a game quicker and quicker every week,” O’Brien said. “I’m starting to [play with] more of a rhythm. I’m really confident just because I have playmakers all around me and a line that’s protecting me, so it makes my job pretty easy.”

To say O’Brien has played beyond his years is an understatement, but his performance is not as surprising to those who have watched him closely, especially Friedgen, who considered burning his redshirt eligibility late last season but decided against it. Offensive coordinator James Franklin immediately saw the potential in O’Brien by watching him practice a year ago, often looking like the best quarterback on the field.

Interestingly enough, I first watched O’Brien play in a scrimmage at Byrd Stadium in August 2009. For my money, he was the best quarterback on the field. Better than Chris Turner and Robinson despite having only walked on campus a few weeks earlier.

“He really hasn’t exceeded my expectations,” said offensive coordinator James Franklin. “I had very, very high expectations for him and our entire offense and our team. He’s accurate, he’s got good athleticism. He’s got a lot of the ingredients that we looked for when we recruited him, and all those things have held true.”

The freshman oozes confidence and efficiency for a Maryland offense that was plagued by the turnovers of Chris Turner and Robinson a year ago. The Terps offense now stands at plus-10 in turnover margin after Maryland committed an appalling 24 turnovers in 12 games last season.

That growing conviction has even radiated during his conversations with Friedgen, who shared how certain O’Brien was about beating Wake Forest, the college team he cheered for  growing up in Kernersville, N.C.

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Terps hold on for ugly 24-21 win at Boston College

Posted on 23 October 2010 by Luke Jones

Having not won a road game in over two years, the Terrapins would take a victory any way they could get it entering Saturday’s meeting with Boston College in Chestnut Hill.

The Terps certainly didn’t make it easy on themselves, squandering a 17-point lead in the fourth quarter and needing a fourth-down stop of Boston College running back Montel Harris with 1:13 remaining to preserve a 24-21 victory, snapping a 10-game road losing streak. Maryland (5-2, 2-1 ACC) used an opportunistic 21-point first half and a patchwork offensive line to do just enough against a Boston College team that has now lost five straight games.

A pair of unlikely heroes were the difference as safety Antwine Perez secured three turnovers — two interceptions and a fumble recovery — that led to 14 points for a Maryland offense that managed just 222 yards for the afternoon.

The other story was center Paul Pinegar shifting to right tackle — due to the horrific accident suffered by starter Pete DeSouza late Thursday night — and helping stabilize an already porous offensive line. The unit protected quarterback Danny O’Brien against a stout Eagles defense, allowing the redshirt freshman to toss three touchdown passes to three different receivers in the first half.

The unsettling fourth quarter in which the Maryland defense allowed two touchdown runs by Harris would not spoil what coach Ralph Friedgen labeled a “character” win for the Terps, who had not won a road game since Sept. 27, 2008 when they beat Clemson 20-17 in Death Valley.

Offensively, the Terps struggled to move the ball with any consistency, rushing for just 40 yards on 32 attempts, but managed to play turnover-free, something they failed to do in last week’s loss at Clemson and for much of last season’s disastrous 2-10 campaign. O’Brien made throws when he needed to, accumulating 182 yards through the air on 40 attempts, and rebounded from his three-interception performance in Death Valley.

Whether Maryland is really that much improved from a year ago is debatable — a soft schedule has unquestionably helped the cause — but the Terps suddenly find themselves only a victory away from becoming bowl-eligible with a favorable matchup against Wake Forest in College Park next Saturday.

The program is still worlds away from where it needs to be with the unsettling future of Friedgen and offensive coordinator — and coach-in-waiting — James Franklin yet to be determined by new athletic director Kevin Anderson.

But at 5-2, the Terps have fared better than most expected they would to this point, and the play of the freshman quarterback O’Brien merits optimism for the future, if enough pieces can be recruited to protect him upfront.

Saturday’s performance wasn’t pretty, but a “character” win at Boston College is sure better than the alternative.

Check out the final box score right here.

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Maryland-Clemson: Turtle Power chat at noon

Posted on 16 October 2010 by Luke Jones

Fresh off their bye week, the Terps travel to Clemson on Saturday afternoon with their sights set on improving to 5-1.

The Tigers (2-3, 0-2 ACC) have lost three straight and are desperate to extract revenge against a Maryland team that stunned them, 24-21, in College Park last season, the Terps’ only conference win of 2009. Clemson has lost its first two conference games against Miami and North Carolina.

Coach Ralph Friedgen has not named a starting quarterback for today’s matchup in Death Valley, a good indication that both Danny O’Brien and Jamarr Robinson will see time under center. Robinson’s injured shoulder is again healthy after the bye, but O’Brien has played well in his absence.

We will see if Maryland can improve to 2-0 in the ACC and make a convincing argument that their current 4-1 record is more an indicator of improvement than a product of a weak non-conference schedule.

We’ll have the Turtle Power chat open at 12 p.m. to talk about the happenings in Clemson (the game airing on WJZ-TV 13 in Baltimore) as well as anything else on your mind. See you in the Turtle Power chat!

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Maryland-Duke Notebook: Terps defense again bends, doesn’t break

Posted on 02 October 2010 by Luke Jones

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — If you subscribe to the “bend, but don’t break philosophy,” the Maryland defense might be the Gumby of the ACC. Despite surrendering 399 yards of offense and 351 passing yards to Duke quarterback Sean Renfree, the Terps held the Blue Devils to three field goals and a single touchdown in their 21-16 victory on Saturday night.

Duke kicked field goals on their first three possessions in the first half and were threatening to score again late in the second quarter before safety Antwine Perez picked off a Renfree pass in the end zone, changing the momentum and leading to Maryland’s first touchdown on the ensuing possession.

Perez was also instrumental late in the fourth quarter with Duke driving to the Maryland 38-yard line. Faced with defending a fourth-and-15, Perez broke up a pass intended for Austin Kelly with 1:55 remaining, sealing the deal for the Terps as they improved to 4-1 overall and 1-0 in conference play.

“It’s only fitting that he broke up the last pass,” head coach Ralph Friedgen said after the game.

Not to be outdone by Perez, fellow safety Kenny Tate was in Renfree’s face throughout the game, picking up 1 1/2 sacks and narrowly missing two others. The 6-foot-4 safety showed far more aggression on blitzes than he previously had, according to Friedgen.

“That’s how [aggressive] he is in practice,” said Friedgen, who thought the junior safety was too cautious when blitzing in earlier games.

While the defense struggled in the first half and made it interesting at the end, Friedgen is noticing a major difference in this year’s team compared to the 2009 squad.

“We’re learning how to finish a game,” said Friedgen

Logan strikes again

For the second straight week, returner Tony Logan made a game-changing impact with an 84-yard punt return for a touchdown early in the third quarter to put the Terps ahead for good at 14-9.

Logan returned a punt 85 yards for a score a week ago against Florida International and can now expect to receive the same treatment that Torrey Smith sees on kickoffs.

Plenty of kicks out of bounds.

Of course, Logan’s brilliant touchdown was soured by a senseless unsportsmanlike penalty after throwing the football against the brick facade beyond the end zone after his dynamic return. Friedgen would like to see his young players make better choices in terms of celebrating big plays.

“I love the emotion and the celebration, but do it on the sideline and do it as a team,” Friegen said.

The junior returner now has 415 punt-return yards in 15 attempts this season and is averaging 27.7 yards per return this season. His 415 return yards are already third on the single-season list despite having played just five games this season.

His 564 career punt return yards move him into fifth on the all-time list at Maryland.

O’Brien struggles in second start

Danny O’Brien received his second career start but struggled to live up to the success he enjoyed against Florida International. The redshirt freshman finished just 9 of 26 for 170 yards.

His 71-yard touchdown pass to Da’Rel Scott was a bigger product of the running back’s ability to break a few tackles and turn on his speed than the actual throw, but Friedgen credited O’Brien for managing the game well. Maryland did not turn it over against the Blue Devils defense.

“I think he’ll grow from this experience, and I think he’ll play better,” Friedgen said.

Speculation persisted the entire week over who would be the starting quarterback for the Terrapins against Duke, but it turned out to be a very simple decision with Jamarr Robinson not practicing until Thursday. Robinson, who started the first three games of the season before injuring his shoulder, was available if needed, but Friedgen preferred resting the junior with the Terps having a bye next weekend.

Pressed whether O’Brien had wrested the starting job from the more-experienced Robinson, Friedgen insisted both quarterbacks will continue to play. He did not, however, rule out O’Brien being the starter when Robinson is back to being 100 percent.

Injury notes

Linebacker Adrian Moten injured his ankle in the game and would have an x-ray following the game.

Tight end Dave Stinebaugh injured his knee and defensive back Eric Franklin went off with an injured hamstring in Saturday’s win. The extent of either injury was unknown following the game.

Odds & ends

Maryland picked up its 200th win at Byrd Stadium, having moved into the stadium in 1950. This year marks the 61st season for the Terps at Byrd. … The Terps are now 4-1 despite being outgained in four of the five games they have played (399-294 against Duke). … After struggling in the turnover department during a disastrous 2-10 season a year ago, the Terps enjoy a +8 turnover ratio after playing turnover-free football for the second straight week.

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Maryland-Duke: Turtle Power chat LIVE NOW!!!

Posted on 02 October 2010 by Luke Jones

**Join us in the Turtle Power chat starting at 6:00 p.m.!!!**

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — The Duke Blue Devils strolling into College Park in early October may lack the buzz of a February matchup on the hardwood at Comcast Center, but Maryland is eager to kick off its conference schedule on a positive note while potentially doubling its win total from a year ago.

Ralph Friedgen and the Terps are fresh off a high-scoring 42-28 victory over Florida International to conclude the non-conference portion of the schedule at 3-1. Redshirt freshman quarterback Danny O’Brien made quite the claim for the starting job after a two-touchdown, 250-yard performance in his first collegiate start. We await word whether O’Brien or junior Jamarr Robinson will get the nod against the Blue Devils this evening.

While Maryland wrapped its non-conference slate with only one loss, David Cutcliffe’s Blue Devils (1-3, 0-1) only have a victory over Elon pinned against losses to Wake Forest, No. 1 Alabama, and Army in the first month of the season. Of course, Duke is playing with young quarterback Sean Renfree after Thaddeus Lewis finished an impressive career in Durham last season.

In addition to playing their ACC opener, the Terps will have revenge on their mind after last season’s 17-13 debacle at Wallace Wade Stadium in which Lewis gashed the Terps for 371 yards and two touchdowns through the air. With Renfree now under center and the Duke defense surrendering 44.5 points per game (118th in the nation), Maryland has to like its chances in this one.

With today’s game only being streamed live on ESPN3.com, join us in the Turtle Power chat as Glenn Clark and I will be providing analysis throughout the evening. As always, you can follow us on Twitter (@WNST) for the quickest updates and one-liners from Byrd Stadium.

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Maryland takes care of business, and then some, against Morgan State

Posted on 11 September 2010 by Luke Jones

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — The Terps did exactly what was expected of them on paper entering Saturday night’s game against Morgan State, completing a 62-3 thrashing of the Bears in the schools’ first ever meeting.

Even a below-average team in a BCS conference — what Maryland is expected to be this season — should easily handle an inferior FCS opponent or a small conference school every time.

It’s exactly what the Terps, however, have struggled to do in recent history.

In 2008, it was a narrow 14-7 victory over Delaware followed by a shocking 24-14 loss to Middle Tennessee. A season ago, the Terps needed overtime to defeat James Madison 38-35 for its first victory of the season and laid an egg the following week, losing to Middle Tennesse for the second straight year, 32-31.

“It’s a great start,” said defensive end Drew Gloster, who clearly noticed Virginia Tech’s shocking loss to FCS school James Madison earlier on Saturday. “We had something to prove today going out against Morgan State. You see a lot of ACC teams losing today, but we represented our conference well.”

The Terps had little excuse for not blowing out the in-state school from the MEAC, racking up 45 points and 252 total yards in the first half and inserting backups for most of the final 30 minutes.

“We’re still a work in progress,” said receiver Torrey Smith, who caught two touchdowns. “We made a lot of mistakes, but we know we can score. It’s just a matter of us being consistent and going out there and getting it done — all the time.”

In reality, little can be learned from the Terps’ dominating performance other than to conclude the Bears won’t be applying for BCS membership any time soon.The Maryland defense held Morgan State to 3 points and 85 total yards (16 in the first half), the lowest number of yards allowed during the Ralph Friedgen era. The Terps should feel good about a 2-0 start, but no one knows how much better — if very much at all — this team is than it was a year ago.

More than anything, the 62-3 victory may have created a bigger quarterback controversy than already anticipated.

Jamarr Robinson improved his passing totals after an embarrassing effort (11 yards) against Navy, completing 6 of 13 passes for 70 yards and two touchdowns in the first half before being pulled from the game early in the second quarter. However, the first significant playing time for redshirt freshman Danny O’Brien will have more fans clamoring for the strong-armed passer over the fleet-footed Robinson.

O’Brien threw three touchdowns passes on his first three collegiate completions, his first being a beautiful 27-yard dart to tight end Matt Furstenburg before tossing scores to Torrey Smith and Da’Rel Scott. Of course, the Bears’ defense is a far cry from the defenses O’Brien will see during the ACC schedule, but his ability is difficult to overlook when looking at the crop of talented receivers largely being wasted with Robinson under center.

“O’Brien is one of the more advanced freshman that I’ve been around,” offensive coordinator James Franklin said. “When you throw the ball 10 times and three of them are for touchdowns, I mean that’s pretty good. It doesn’t take a genius to see that.”

Robinson’s scrambling ability is an unquestionable asset for Franklin’s offense, but major doubts exist in his ability to produce through the air, something he will need to do starting next week when the Terps travel to a hostile environment in Morgantown to take on the West Virginia Mountaineers. For now, it appears Friedgen will go with the two-quarterback approach as we have seen in the past during his 10-year tenure as the Terps coach.

“We’ve been planning on playing [Robinson] and [O’Brien],” Franklin said. “Felt like all camp we had two [starters], and obviously they are both athletic guys. Danny probably brings a little bit different game than Jamar, but they’re both athletic guys who can do a lot of things. We’ll evaluate the film and go from there.”

It will be a delicate balance that Friedgen and Franklin will have to approach carefully to avoid disruptions of rhythm and flow like we saw last week when O’Brien entered a tie game early in the fourth quarter and promptly fumbled his first hand-off to Davin Meggett, instantly killing a red-zone opportunity. Two-quarterback systems can work at the college level — see the 2007 Florida Gators with Chris Leak and Tim Tebow — but it takes a strong feel for the game by the head coach, a trait many feel Friedgen has lacked in recent seasons in College Park.

Maryland’s first two games have been difficult to use in trying to assess how good this team really is. With Navy’s unconventional triple option racking up significant yardage but self-destructing in the red zone and overmatched Morgan State simply lacking the talent needed to compete with an ACC school, even a bad team may have stolen these two wins.

“I think we’re better than last year, no question about that,” Friedgen said. “I’m interested in how good we are this week [against West Virginia]. But I think this team has a chance to be a very good team. I’ve said that all along.”

The first real test will come next Saturday against rival West Virginia, who will look to rebound after a scary 24-21 overtime victory over Marshall on Friday night. If Maryland goes to Morgantown and knocks off the Mountaineers, they can begin to whisper about the possibility of making some noise in a very average-looking ACC through the first two weeks of the season.

Until then, the Terps can enjoy the 2-0 start — already matching their win total from a season ago — but the first two weeks have been played against unconventional opposition.

Starting next week, we’ll see what Maryland is really made of.

“They’re 2-0, and we’re 2-0,” Gloster said. “There is a good rivalry between us. We are just looking forward to the opportunity to be 3-0.”

INJURY UPDATE: O’Brien suffered a sprained ankle, but the injury is not considered serious, according to Franklin. Freshman quarterback C.J. Brown broke his collarbone and will likely be out eight weeks, per Friedgen. Defensive lineman Marcus Whitfield dislocated his patella and will have an MRI on Monday to determine the severity of the injury.

NOTES: Maryland is off to its first 2-0 start since 2007 when the Terps opened with victories over Villanova and Florida International. … The Terps’ 17 points in the first quarter was the most in an opening quarter since scoring 24 at home against the Citadel in a 61-0 victory on Sept. 13, 2003. … O’Brien’s first touchdown pass came on the first pass attempt of his collegiate career. His three touchdown passes came in his first four attempts. … Freshman running back D.J. Adams led the Terps in rushing with 70 yards on 11 carries and two touchdowns. … The last time Maryland scored 60 in a game was the win over the Citadel in 2003.

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