Thursday, September 29, 2005

Is the Fridge facing the heat?

Before Virginia Tech stole the party last year, only one team had won the ACC championship outright in football, and not been named Florida State. In 2001-2002, the Maryland Terrapins went 10-2. Their only losses to FSU and Miami in the Orange Bowl. Ralph Friedgen was considered a genius, he won the NCAA Coach of the Year. The times however, they are a changin.

Last year, without star QB Scott McBrien, coach Friedgen had some major trouble finding an offense. Despite a huge 20-17 victory over FSU last year, Maryland struggled and finished with a 5-6 record. This year has started out with a similar tone, 2-2. Coach Friedgen was not brought in to be mediocre, he was supposed to take the Terps to the levels they achieved just 4 years ago.

So now with #18 Virginia coming into town in this year's homecoming game. The question is, can the Fridge get the Terrapins back in gear?

"If we can get a win this week, I think it will give our guys the confidence to go on for the rest of the season. " Friedgen said.

He realizes that Virginia is a dangerous team.

"It's a very big game coming up. We're playing a fine team in Virginia, they're undefeated. It's important for us to get some momentum going into the last half of the season...It will be a very tough game for us, but it's our Homecoming and it should be an exciting game."

To get some excitement, Maryland must find a way to ignite a stagnant offense. That means big contributions from junior QB Sam Hollenbach. Last week against Wake Forest he went 12-22 for 169 yards and one interception. Ball control will be critical for both teams, as Virginia QB Marques Hagans has had some shaky outings as well.

Maryland's bread and butter remains their tough and aggressive defense. Virginia must find a way to put points on the board, which means patient passing. Maryland has only allowed 494 yards of passing in 4 games, that means Virginia will have to look to the trenches if they want a victory.

Last year was a debacle for Maryland, getting shut out 16-0 in Charlottesville. The Virginia defense created two interceptions and RB Wali Lundy scored both touchdowns in a rather ugly game that time around, and he hopes to get back in form this week after a poor return effort against Duke.

This year however, the rivalry goes back to College Park, a place where Virginia head coach Al Groh has never won. Fans still have alot of respect for The Fridge, but it certainly seems that this game might mean more than just any ACC game. It is homecoming and fans need to a rivalry win. After losing to WV for the second straight year, and an absolute implosion against the Hokies last year, Maryland football has had little to hold it's hat on. Time will tell what this game will do for both of these teams's respective seasons but one thing is for certain: Glory fades, but hope never dies.


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