Maryland excited about resuming football rivalry with West Virginia

By Eric Prisbell
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 14, 2010; 11:19 PM

When bowl officials were discussing pairing Maryland and West Virginia in the Gator Bowl seven years ago, they had concerns about the interest level in what would be a regular season rematch.

"I told them, 'You could probably play this game four times a week and sell it out,' " Maryland Coach Ralph Friedgen said Tuesday.

There is a buzz inside the Gossett Team House this week. The Terrapins are 2-0, but, more than that, they are preparing for the next chapter in one of their most intense rivalries.

After a two-year hiatus, Maryland will once again play the team it has faced more than any other nonconference opponent. The Mountaineers hold a 23-21-2 edge in a series that began in 1919 and was played every year from 1980 to 2007. Friedgen was pleased to see both schools announce this week that the series would continue at least through 2017.

"We're right next door," Maryland linebacker Adrian Moten said about the proximity to Morgantown, W. Va. "It's like your neighbor. If one guy is a Cowboys fan and you're a Redskins fan, you're going to hear it win or lose, he's going to let you know. Emotions will play into this game."

They usually do. In 2004, after West Virginia won a 19-16 overtime battle in Morgantown, running back Kay-Jay Harris entered the interview room and shouted, "We must protect this house!" a mocking salute to Maryland's Under Armour commercial. "That was our slogan all week," Harris said after the game. "Is Under Armour second-guessing why they didn't come to Coach [Rich Rodriguez] to give him an endorsement deal?"

For as spirited as the rivalry has been, there has been a dearth of competitive games in recent years. In the last 15 meetings, only that 2004 game was decided by less than 10 points.

West Virginia has won four straight games against Maryland after losing the first four during Friedgen's tenure. Maryland's last victory was the 41-7 victory in the Gator Bowl on Jan. 1, 2004.

"We need to start getting some wins to call it a true rivalry," Maryland linebacker Alex Wujciak said. "The last time we beat them was in the bowl game, a long time ago."

Two QBs to see action

Friedgen said he expects quarterbacks Jamarr Robinson and Danny O'Brien to both play against the Mountaineers. O'Brien, who threw three touchdowns in the first four pass attempts of his career against Morgan State on Saturday, sprained his ankle in the game, but Friedgen has said the injury is not as serious as originally thought.

Robinson, who started the first two games, threw two touchdown passes and an interception against Morgan State. The junior has rushed for 128 total net yards in two games, but his focus is on improving in the passing game.

"The passing game, that's where I'm lacking right now," said Robinson, who has completed 42.1 percent of his passes. "Just getting the ball there, basically, and trusting it."

Yeatman still 'rusty'

Tight end Will Yeatman, for whom the coaches have high hopes this season, returned to practice this week for the first time since breaking his finger in mid-August. Yeatman was "rusty" in practice, Friedgen said, but coaches maintain hope that Yeatman can perform blocking duties Saturday. . . .

Friedgen said that MRI exam results revealed that defensive lineman Marcus Whitfield tore his MCL, ACL and the ligament behind his patella in the Morgan State game and would miss the remainder of the season. . . .

Travis Baltz, a first-team all-ACC punter in 2008, will continue to kick field goals and extra points for Maryland after an impressive performance in which he made two 47-yard field goals against Morgan State. . . .

Coaches are emphasizing reducing penalties this week after the Terrapins committed 10 for 110 yards against Morgan State. Friedgen showed players all of the penalties in the game and has had officials at practice in the past to help reduce the number of infractions.

He said some players committed penalties against Morgan State because they retaliated and were overly aggressive at times.

"I can't condone penalties, but some of them are tough" to get overly upset about, Friedgen said.

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