Maryland starting quarterback Sam Hollenbach, still nursing his injured non-throwing shoulder, did not practice yesterday and his availability for Saturday's game at No. 10 Florida State could be determined at today's practice.
Hollenbach was hurt during a first-quarter option run against Virginia Tech on Thursday night, and although he did not miss a snap, he has yet to practice this week. Yesterday, the ACC's fourth-ranked passer attended practice wearing jeans, a heavy coat and a ski cap while starter-turned-backup-turned-possible-starter Joel Statham went through drills with the first-team offense.
"They're trying to just let the shoulder quiet down, and we'll know more" today, Maryland Coach Ralph Friedgen said. "I think if he can play we will play him. We'll just have to see how well he does and whether he can learn the game plan by Saturday."
If not, Statham would get a chance to revisit the brightest moment of his career, a 20-17 upset of Florida State last year in which he threw for 333 yards and one touchdown and ran for another score. The victory was Maryland's first over the Seminoles, and it was the high-water mark for Statham, who was eventually supplanted by Hollenbach in the season finale.
"Isn't he the guy that killed us last year?" responded Florida State Coach Bobby Bowden when asked about Statham. "I'm talking about he beat us to death last year, you know? . . . They look like they're in pretty good shape at quarterback, no matter what."
Friedgen's vote of confidence was less emphatic. He said third-stringer Jordan Steffy, who is hoping to redshirt this year as he recovers from offseason knee and elbow procedures, would be used if needed, and that both reserve quarterbacks performed well in Monday night's soggy practice. Still, Friedgen's clear preference would be Hollenbach, who had his worst game of the season against Virginia Tech.
If "Joel's our quarterback, we'll see how he does, and I plan on him doing well," Friedgen said. "I think he should have a lot of confidence. He's been in the fire before. I'm prepared to go with him if that's what we've got to do. You know, I want to have Sam. If Sam can go, he'll go. If he can't go, then we've got to go to the next guy."
Statham said he was eager to play and any problems with nerves were in the past. "I've already got all that stuff out of my system now," he said. "I'm still making mistakes out there, but I'm trying to minimize those. And hopefully, if I get out there I won't make any and we'll be able to come out with a win."
By winning its final four games, Maryland (4-3, 2-2) would win the ACC's Atlantic Division and play in the conference title game, a goal Friedgen mentioned several times yesterday. If the Terps lose on Saturday, they would be eliminated from the ACC race and would need to win two of their final three games to be eligible for a postseason bowl.
Place kicker Dan Ennis made 1 of 3 field goal attempts against the Hokies and has missed four of his past five. But Obi Egekeze is not yet 100 percent after injuring his right quadriceps in preseason, and Friedgen said he remained confident in Ennis.
Holder Adam Podlesh, a former place kicker, said he has been counseling Ennis on putting the misses behind him and that the junior walk-on, who made his first 11 attempts this year, seemed to be in good spirits. "He really hasn't been playing a whole lot of head games with himself," Podlesh said. "He's usually a pretty levelheaded kid; he's not going to go out there and go crazy over a few kicks." . . .
Running back Keon Lattimore wore a non-contact jersey yesterday because of a partial dislocation of a shoulder joint, Friedgen said. He is questionable for Saturday's game. . . . Former fullback Ricardo Dickerson, who played defense in past seasons, is now working at the team's hybrid linebacker-defensive end position.