No. 23 Maryland Football Makes Final Preparations for Virginia Tech
Nov. 4, 2008
COLLEGE PARK, Md. - With just one-third of its 2008 regular season left to play, the No. 23 Maryland football team knows there is plenty at stake when it travels to Blacksburg, Va., for a nationally-televised Thursday night showdown with Virginia Tech.
Fresh off a bye week that saw it enter the national rankings and gain sole possession of first place in the Atlantic Coast Conference's Atlantic Division thanks to a loss by Florida State, Maryland (6-2, 3-1) expects a stern test from the Hokies (5-3, 2-2) as the Terps attempt to preserve both off-week accomplishments and position itself for a shot at the conference title.
"No matter how you cut it up, we control our own destiny," head coach Ralph Friedgen said during his weekly press conference Tuesday. "When everybody is playing everybody else these last four games, there are a lot of things that can happen."
ESPN will showcase the Thursday night contest between a pair of foes who have met just four times during the last 68 years. Yet despite the infrequent matchups, several Maryland upperclassmen are keenly aware of the hostile environment the team awaits thanks to their experience traveling to Blacksburg in 2004.
Virginia Tech, which boasts one of the conference's best defensive and special teams units, has won 87 percent of its games the last five years at its own Lane Stadium - a venue known for vocal crowds and a lively atmosphere.
"There are a lot of tough places to play in the ACC and this is one of them," Friedgen said. "We have to do a good job of being able to communicate and keep our poise. Things happen very fast, so it is a game where we can't turn the ball over and we have to be very sound in our kicking game. We can't have something happen that will get them going."
The Terps prepared for Thursday's much-anticipated game by utilizing artificial noise during recent practices, spending much of their bye week game-planning for the Hokies and conducting their final preparations Tuesday afternoon through light rain.
During the series of two-minute drills at the end of Tuesday's session, the Maryland offense managed a pair of successful field-goal conversions off the foot of place-kicker Obi Egekeze, who has connected on 11 of his last 12 attempts. Quarterback Chris Turner, the second-rated passer in the ACC, completed five of seven passes, including two apiece to wide receiver Torrey Smith and tight end Dan Gronkowski, in orchestrating the first scoring drive. Fellow signal-caller Josh Portis engineered the second drive, hitting wideout Emani Lee-Odai for consecutive completions.
Following Tuesday's practice, Friedgen announced the captains for Thursday's game. Wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey, defensive lineman Jeremy Navarre and linebacker Rick Costa will represent the Terps offensive, defense and special teams' units, respectively.
Friedgen also named walk-on tight end Ryan Schlothauer and defensive lineman Obum Akunyili his scout team players of the week for their performance in practice leading up to the matchup with the Hokies.
A pair of Virginia natives will carry the flags onto the field Thursday for the Terps. Smith will carry the American flag, and defensive back Jeff Allen will bring the Maryland flag. The Terps started the practice of carrying the flags onto the field prior to games at the beginning of the season.
Kickoff for the Virginia Tech game is set for 7:30 p.m. from Lane Stadium.
In addition to the ESPN broadcast, the game can be heard over the Terrapin Sports Radio Network. Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic will show a two-hour replay of the game at 7:30 p.m. Sunday.
Single-Game Tickets on Sale: Tickets for the Terps' final two home games (North Carolina and Florida State), which start as low as $27, are available through the Maryland Athletics Ticket Office. Fans my call 1-800-IM-A-TERP or click here.
Friedgen Radio Show: Due to Thursday's game at Virginia Tech, there is no Ralph Friedgen Radio Show scheduled this week. The show, which airs at 8 p.m. each Wednesday from the Outback Steakhouse in Aspen Hill, will return next week. The one-hour show airs on the Terrapin Sports Radio Network.
Terrapin Sports Radio Network: All of Maryland's football games are broadcast live on the Terrapin Sports Radio Network, which boasts 14 stations, including flagships WJZ 105.7 FM and WJZ 1300 AM in Baltimore. Both of those stations changed formats this week, but they will continue to air Maryland football and basketball games. The change should be a seamless transition for radio listeners.