COLLEGE PARK - Contrary to what you might have heard, the sky isn't falling on the Maryland football team.
At least, that's the way wide receiver Rich Parson tells it. After all, if Maryland defeats The Citadel on Saturday, the Terps' record will be 1-2. And Parson would argue that starting out last year 1-2 went a long way toward helping Maryland win 10 of the next 11 games.
"I think being 1-2 last year gave us character," Parson said. "It gave us that fighting edge. I think it's one we've got to get back."
Parson, in fact, might be just the man for the job. Through two games, Maryland has desperately needed someone - be it a running back, quarterback or receiver - to step forward and make a game-changing play. Though it hasn't happened yet, coach Ralph Friedgen thinks Parson might be the guy who could bring Maryland out of its funk.
"There were a couple opportunities [against Florida State] if we'd have caught the ball and started running with it, you might have seen big plays happen," said Friedgen.
"Rich Parson is a guy who is playing that way. He caught a couple passes and gained pretty significant yardage after he caught the ball. But not all our guys are doing that. They catch the ball and they think the job is over."
If Parson gets overlooked sometimes, it's because, at 5 feet 10, 182 pounds, he's not as physically imposing as fellow receivers Jafar Williams and Latrez Harrison.
But Friedgen isn't afraid to put the ball in his hands any way he can, whether it means involving Parson in the running game (he took a pitch for 10 yards against Northern Illinois), the passing game (his 23-yard reception against Florida State was the longest of the night) or on kickoffs and punts.
"He's really one of the hardest-working kids we have," Friedgen said. "He's such a high-energy guy. He's an excellent runner with the football when he gets it."
He just hasn't broken one for a long gain yet. But even Parson realizes that when he or someone else does, a huge weight will be lifted from the offense's shoulders.
"It would do wonders for us this game," Parson said. "I think we're still playing not to lose instead of playing to win."
Hurting, but willing
It's no secret Maryland badly needs someone to play right guard this week, but it was still something of a surprise to see senior Ed Tyler - who had been ruled out for The Citadel game after suffering a second-degree ligament sprain in his right elbow -practicing yesterday.
Tyler was wearing a large amount of protective gear, including a brace that prevented his elbow from moving more than six inches in either direction.
"I'll do whatever they'll let me do," Tyler said. "They told me it was just more of a pain thing, if I could tolerate it. We'll see what I can do."
Freidgen said he would likely only use Tyler in an emergency situation, especially after Akil Patterson was able to practice yesterday on his sprained right ankle. If Patterson can't go, junior Ryan Flynn will likely get the start. Freshman Andrew Crummey could also see action, though Maryland would prefer he redshirt.
Running back Bruce Perry did not practice for the third straight day, causing Friedgen to rule him out for Saturday.
Next for Terps
Matchup: The Citadel (1-1) vs. Maryland (0-2)
Site: Byrd Stadium, College Park
When: Saturday, 6 p.m.
Radio: WNST (1570 AM), WBAL (1090 AM) in progress after 4:05 p.m Orioles-Blue Jays game