Mountain Mania Awaits Terrapins

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By Marc Carig
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 12, 2006

As Maryland prepares to enter a hostile environment at No. 5 West Virginia on Thursday, the team's veterans have been quick to dish out advice to the younger players on how to handle the situation.

Take, for instance, running back Lance Ball, who plans on counteracting the West Virginia fans' penchant for throwing objects at opposing players by wearing his helmet wherever he goes -- "on the bus, in the locker room, while going to the bathroom."

"I've been to Morgantown," Ball said. "It's pretty ugly down there."

Linebacker Wesley Jefferson paints a similar, though somewhat more optimistic, picture.

"It's really going to be an electrifying feeling, just to know all those people are going to be there screaming and hating our guts," he said.

Despite differences in perception, the Terrapins know that they'll be facing a strong 12th man presence when they visit Milan Puskar Stadium in a nationally televised game.

In response, Maryland Coach Ralph Friedgen pumped electronic crowd noise into the Terps' practice field yesterday, a tactic typically reserved just for two-minute drills at Friday practices.

"I personally like to play in that environment," Friedgen said. "I think it's what college football is all about."

Aside from the noise and the players' musings, there were plenty of signs around College Park yesterday of the upcoming matchup, including the annual playing of John Denver's rendition of "Country Roads" at the start of practice.

"It's not only playing in that environment, it's playing the hype," Friedgen said. "There's a certain feeling or atmosphere on a Thursday night game."

Friedgen compared the Thursday night game environment to the feeling of Monday night games in the NFL, an experience he had as offensive coordinator of the San Diego Chargers.

"Chester McGlockton, we couldn't block the guy," said Friedgen, remembering Monday night games against the former Raiders defensive lineman. "Sunday we could block him. Monday night, no way."

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