Hollenbach Sees Chance For Turnover Turnabout
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
The West Virginia highlight film shows a tall guy wearing a No. 14 jersey running for his life, seconds before getting smashed by a defender. A few seconds later, a similar scene pops up again, this time with players scurrying for a loose football.
The images came from Maryland's 31-19 loss to the Mountaineers last season, a game Terrapins quarterback Sam Hollenbach helped decide. Hollenbach first rallied his team from a 15-point deficit to within two, but late in the fourth quarter, he fumbled away Maryland's final comeback hopes.
As the season unfolded, those images endured.
The Mountaineers went on to a breakout season, upending Georgia in the Sugar Bowl. The Terrapins endured a maze of opportunities lost, stumbling to a second straight 5-6 season partly because of Hollenbach's inability to eliminate turnovers.
When the two regional rivals meet again tomorrow night, a key question surrounding the Terrapins' season will be answered when Hollenbach leads his team into what promises to be a hostile environment against the No. 5 Mountaineers.
Just how far has the quarterback come?
"It's pretty much a culmination of everything," Hollenbach said. "This is kind of like what Coach Friedgen described as a final exam. We really need to be prepared for it. That's kind of how I look at it, too. Personally, going into this game, this is where leadership needs to really show itself."
For Hollenbach, tomorrow's game is a chance to remake his image after a tumultuous season during which he threw 15 interceptions and played through a painful shoulder injury. His decision-making came under such scrutiny that Friedgen opened competition for the starting job.
Nevertheless, Hollenbach prevailed, securing the starting job even before fall camp opened. He earned praise from coaches for his improvement in reading routes and running the offense.
His hard work during the offseason left an impact on his coach.
"I'm rooting for him," Friedgen said of Hollenbach during camp.
Two games into this season, Hollenbach has yet to throw a touchdown pass. But most important, he hasn't thrown an interception, going an efficient 20 of 30 for 292 yards while leading a conservative attack.