Maryland offensive coordinator Charlie Taaffe said he almost wouldn't mind if Joel Statham committed a couple of turnovers if it meant the sophomore would be less tentative behind center. Early in the season, fumbles (10) and interceptions (seven) were Statham's problems. The past two weeks, Maryland's starting quarterback hasn't thrown an interception, but he hasn't been effective and has been pulled both times midway through the third quarter. Backup Jordan Steffy, who has replaced Statham with little success, battled sore arm troubles early in the season and sat out Thursday's practice. But Maryland Coach Ralph Friedgen said both quarterbacks may play today. Statham and Steffy can take solace in the fact that Charlie Whitehurst, Clemson's quarterback, has thrown 13 interceptions.
Minus Two Tackles?
Maryland's beleaguered offensive line might be without its two starting tackles today. Right tackle Lou Lombardo has not practiced and has had an arm in a sling this week. Coach Ralph Friedgen declined to discuss any injuries Thursday. Left tackle Stephon Heyer is questionable because of a dislocated kneecap. Heyer suffered the injury in the North Carolina State game but returned after the kneecap was taped back in place. Friedgen said he has seen improvement in his second-team offensive line, particularly in the play of Jamie Thomas, Scott Burley and Donnie Woods. The play of the offensive line is crucial in providing time for Statham to throw and opening up holes for running backs Josh Allen and Sam Maldonado. "We're still moving people around," Friedgen said. "We're not as stable as I'd like to be."
This isn't exactly Bowden-gate, but Friedgen expressed some displeasure at the situation this week. Clemson Coach Tommy Bowden said that he has consulted his brother, Terry, about Maryland's offensive problems. Terry was seen at a Maryland practice in recent weeks and is part of the broadcast team at ABC, which televised the past two Maryland games. "I don't know if I'm thrilled with that," Friedgen said Wednesday. "I don't have a brother who is a TV announcer I can talk to." Will Clemson know every play Maryland will run? Not likely. The Tigers probably won't predict Maryland's plays as well as N.C. State did last week, when the Wolfpack called out a double screen before the Terps ran it. One interesting note, though: Maryland will face Bobby Bowden, the father of Tommy and Terry, next week when Florida State visits Byrd Stadium. "They probably have a family meeting about me," Friedgen said.
Maryland players met Monday in a 90-minute meeting that was described by those involved as "very emotional." Players said it felt good to air frustrations and get issues off their chests. A summary of the discussion was provided to coaches when they entered the meeting toward the end. Friedgen, looking for consistent leadership, had players vote on permanent team captains this week. The three players elected were senior cornerback Domonique Foxworth, senior left guard C.J. Brooks and junior middle linebacker D'Qwell Jackson. Leadership will be key today, when Maryland competes in the most hostile environment since facing West Virginia in Morgantown on Sept. 18.