Maryland vs. Akron: Postgame Quotes

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Sept. 7, 2002

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Head Coach Ralph Friedgen

"I feel a lot better than I did last week. I thought we played a good game and we showed improvement. Our running game was better and Scott McBrien did a very good job of managing the team. I thought his decisions were better. He ran the ball well and he gave us a chance."

"We still have some things to improve. We have to get better in the red zone. We're kicking too many field goals. Nick [Novak] missed that short one, but he's been kicking the ball very well and that's why I gave him the opportunity to kick that long one (51 yards). I wanted to help his confidence. Tonight he was kicking them from the 40-yard line. He has that ability. He's going to do a really great job for us down the stretch."

"We played a lot of kids. I don't know what the number is, but we had a lot more freshmen playing in this game than we did last week - especially in that long drive [Akron] had, I think it was 23 plays. We had a lot of kids in there and [defensive coordinator] Coach Blackney was getting very frustrated. They were making some mistakes but that's how they learn. I said to keep them in there and let them get better. We're trying to get better for the rest of the season."

On Chris Downs: "Chris played well. He played like he's been practicing . I think he's quicker than Mario [Merrills] and Jason [Crawford]. I thought all three of them played well. They kind of complement each other. Chris is a little scatback type of guy who has a burst. Mario is kind of in-between, he has good speed but runs hard. And Jason's kind of a piledriver. He was thumping it in there tonight. I was pleased with all of them. It was good to see that, good to see them run with a lot of confidence."

On Steve Suter and his long punt return: "I've been saying that Steve is a big-play guy. He's been doing it through all of two-a-days. On that play, we were actually checking some fakes. I think it was 3rd-and-four, about the 20-yard line. Once we check fake, we go to a middle return. He made the first couple of guys miss and then just made a heck of a run. I think we're going to be better in that area than we were last year. I think he's a threat. Plus the new rule, with the 10-yard halo rule I think you're going to see a lot more long punt returns. There was another one today in the Purdue-Notre Dame game. I think you're going to see a lot more long punt returns with the new halo rule. I don't know if that's good or bad, but it's going to be a lot more exciting, anyway."

On playing Akron and getting the first win: "I said this was our most important game. If we didn't win this game, then we're looking at Florida State and a very tough road ahead. Plus the confidence factor and everything else, that's why I thought it was a very important football game. I thought our kids handled it well. They came out and did what they had to do. I thought Akron was a very aggressive and scrappy team. They had a couple of really good wide receivers and an excellent quarterback. We pretty much handled the first half. But in the second half, I was a little disappointed because we put the ball in the redzone and didn't put points on the board and didn't score a touchdown. I think that's an area that we have to get better at. Chris [Kelley] had his chances. I thought he made some good throws but just didn't hit on one. It was a game where we could get better. I was pleased with it."

On rating the defense and offense: "I think we're growing in both areas. I thought our first team defense played very well. I thought EJ ran very well, a lot better than he did last week. I think he's still probably about 90 percent. I was giving him grief about his pass defense last week, so when he made the interception, he came over to me and said, `How do you like my hands?' He kind of threw it right back at me. Offensively, I thought we did what we had to do. We didn't do anything fancy, just the basics. We executed, which is what we asked them to do. Now we have to grow from there. We'll see how we can get better next week."

On winning: "Winning is everything. My psyche is a lot better. The sun shines. Girls are better looking. Winning is day and night over the alternative. I'm sure it will help us, and hopefully we'll benefit from it, have a good week of practice and get ready for a big game coming up. And how about the crowd tonight. I'm very appreciative of that. I think that was a motivating factor for the kids. And of course the Jumbotron and the sound system ... things are starting to happen around this place."

On the Florida State game: "Florida State has a very senior offensive line. I think that last year, we competed with them pretty well. We'll find out how much we grew tonight, next week. That's why we're going to play the game. We'll find out."

On doing things well: "We had very few penalties and we didn't put the ball on the ground. We did things that good teams do."

Junior Quarterback Scott McBrien
On the improvement of the Terps' offense:
"The line did a great job, protection wise, and our receivers ran great routes. I had time to deliver, and I think our offense was much more comfortable tonight than we were last week. We are going to have to be a little more balanced next week, but tonight gave us a lot of confidence - throwing the ball, and running the ball. As for next week, we have a lot of confidence, and we're going to have a great game plan - we'll be ready."

Senior Tailback Chris Downs
On making the most of his first start:
"I'm pretty much the smallest back out of anybody. And being given this shot meant a lot to me. I've been here two years, and the first season I sat out and redshirted. Then in the second season I broke my hand in camp and missed the first five weeks, and then I was on the scout team. But I always try to work hard and do my best, and finally it paid off for me."

Senior Linebacker E.J. Henderson
On what was accomplished against Akron:
"I think tonight was a big confidence boost, especially for the offense. I think they realized that they can put points on the board - that they can move the ball down the field, running or passing. But of the things accomplished, I think the most important is confidence."

Junior Cornerback Curome Cox
On what the Terps wanted to prove:
"We came out tonight and played how we wanted to play. We executed, and it gave us a chance to let our fans know that last week was only one game, and we're right back on track to achieve our goals for the season."

On the game atmosphere:
"It was great to come out tonight to a new video board, and the crowd was great and they stayed for most of the game. It was good to see."

Junior Safety Madieu Williams
On his first performance at home:
"Tonight felt pretty good. My whole focus coming into the game was to do whatever it takes to get the victory. I know that last week left a bitter taste in our mouth, so what we wanted to do was focus and get the 'W.'"

Junior Guard Lamar Bryant
On the difference between last week's game and tonight's:
"I saw a lot of improvement out there tonight. I saw a lot more hustle, a lot more sharpness and I think we're coming closer together as a team. I think everyone was in tune with their assignments - knew what to do and when to do it - and did it on time."

Sophomore Returner Steve Suter
On his punt return for a touchdown in the second quarter:
"It's hard to describe the feeling. It's beautiful. You think, 'cut left, cut back,' and then it opens up and it's time to go. You just keep your head forward and put on the jets. I had my family and friends from home here tonight, and it meant a lot to make a big play with them here."