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-09-16-2005 #1DJRamFan Guest
The weekend schedule features four home games, four road games, and seven televised c
By David Selig The Diamondback
College Park, MD (U-WIRE) -- In the hallway leading to the Terrapin football coaches' offices, a framed photograph of a game against West Virginia sits adjacent to one depicting a scene from a Clemson match-up.
The purple and burnt orange combination clashes with West Virginia's light gold and navy blue colors, but the photos' proximity is fitting.
A week after failing to gain a feeling of retribution against the Tigers, the Terps (1-1) will have a chance to exact some revenge for their other season-crippling defeat from a year ago when they host the Mountaineers (2-0) Saturday at Byrd Stadium.
Against Clemson, the Terps were so emotional they crippled themselves with personal fouls. But with arguably the biggest rivalry game sitting next on the schedule, the Terps don't seem concerned about harnessing their excitement.
"Some of the penalties we had were questionable. Anyone could see that," free safety Chris Varner said. "We're going to be fired up because that's how we are. We're the bad boys of the ACC."
The only problem is the defense hasn't instilled much fear in its opponents to this point, and not even their coach will defend that claim.
"I don't agree with that at all," coach Ralph Friedgen said. "The way they can be bad boys is to start shutting guys out."
So far, that's hardly been the case. After serving as the team's cornerstone last season, the unit has struggled through two games, allowing an average of 24 points and 317.5 yards of total offense.
Linebacker D'Qwell Jackson has carried the defense with 34 tackles (David Holloway is second on the team with 13), but a banged-up secondary has struggled behind a less-than-intimidating pass rush. Through a pair of games, the Terps have just two sacks, neither dropping the quarterback more than five yards behind the line of scrimmage.
West Virginia comes in with the best total defense in the nation (128.5 yards per game) after beating Syracuse and Wofford. But the focus this week will be on the Terps' unit, which West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez believes "is still as stout as ever."
After facing Navy's running quarterback Lamar Owens and Clemson pocket-passer Charlie Whitehurst, the Terps have spent the week preparing for two signal-callers. The Mountaineers utilize both speedy freshman Pat White and strong-armed sophomore Adam Bednarik in their offense.
Similar to this past week, the Terp defense feels it has something to prove against a team they could have beaten if not for a game-winning touchdown pass from Rasheed Marshall to Chris Henry.
"We let that one get away also," cornerback Josh Wilson said. "In overtime, the defense had a chance to win it again, and we gave it up. We've got to win a game for the offense."
Friedgen realizes his team's additional motivation and wants the players to maintain their intensity, but would rather see it all come between the whistles.
"I don't like that stuff," Friedgen said about players' supplying bulletin-board content for their opposition. "Do your talking on the field. Look what talking did for us last week."
But this week's opponent might bring an even greater challenge for the Terps in terms of staying focused, as the Mountaineers will likely bring the rowdiest environment of the year to Byrd Stadium.
Last season in Morgantown, W.Va., the rivalry even spilled onto the sidelines when an Internet reporter - and former university instructor - was seen yelling at Terp defensive line coach Dave Sollazzo.
With the anticipation building for the teams' 27th meeting in the past 26 years, the Terrapin Ticket Office oversold about 500 tickets, Athletics Director Debbie Yow said, and an extra set of temporary bleachers were installed.
And for the Terps, the West Virginia fans are adding more fuel to their fiery approach.
"They do some crazy things down in Morgantown," tight end Vernon Davis said. "They try to make fun of everybody. It's just about getting back at the players and making the fans upset."
That, and getting a win.
TERP NOTES: Wide receiver Derrick Fenner (concussion) has passed all medical tests, but as of yesterday afternoon he still had not received doctor's clearance to play Saturday. ... Fullback Tim Cesa also returned to practice this week after being sidelined since the start of camp with mononucleosis. Friedgen said Cesa is "rusty," but will see some action.
(C) 2004 The Diamondback via U-WIRE