Friedgen's 2 cents: change incorrect

The Baltimore Sun

COLLEGE PARK - Coach Ralph Friedgen said yesterday that it would do more harm than good to immediately make widespread changes to a talented, if underachieving, Terrapins team coming off one of the program's worst losses since Friedgen took over in 2001.

Not that he didn't consider adjustments to the depth chart. The coach indicated at his media briefing that he talked to a few players who underperformed against Middle Tennessee State and contemplated changes.

"I've actually had a few kids in and felt like maybe now isn't the right time to do it," Friedgen said.

"I thought at the meeting [Monday] it was very important to be very positive with the players."

Friedgen seems to be going on instinct. His gut tells him now isn't the time to rip up a team he still believes has good character, talent and speed. The coach said the players took the 24-14 loss at least as hard as he did.

"He's not punishing us or anything. He just wants us to be ready to go," tight end Dan Gronkowski said. "We knew we didn't play good. He just wanted us to learn from our mistakes. This is definitely a good time to lose a game like this, at the beginning of the season."

The Terrapins play No. 23 California at home Saturday. The Golden Bears (2-0) have scored 104 points in their first two games, including 66 on Saturday against Washington State.

Middle Tennessee State befuddled the Terps with its no-huddle, spread offense. Middle Tennessee made 21 first downs, piecing together scoring drives of 17 plays and 10 plays in the first half. The Blue Raiders' possession time of 39:49 almost doubled Maryland's.

Friedgen described the game as "a train wreck."

"I knew they had speed, they had skill people. I knew if we weren't at our best we would have a good opportunity to get beat. It's like you're seeing a train wreck and you don't have the ability to do anything about it," the coach said.

Said Gronkowski, who had two receptions for 23 yards: "After losing a game like that, you really look forward to a game like this to redeem yourself. That's what we've done in the past."

Two of Maryland's biggest wins last season - against Rutgers and Boston College - followed close, dispiriting losses.

Friedgen said a few adjustments are being made:

* Free safety Terrell Skinner (high ankle sprain) is out two to three weeks and is being replaced by Antwine Perez and Jamari McCollough. Skinner had a game-clinching interception in the opening-week victory over Delaware.

* Maryland is going to work on defending the no-huddle offense, which Middle Tennessee used successfully Saturday. In their rush to line up, Friedgen said Maryland defenders sometimes "didn't get the signal, so not everybody was on the same page defensively."

Next game: Home vs. California, Saturday, noon


Radio: 105.7 FM, 1300 AM

Line: California by 14 1/2

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