After Sam Hollenbach exited Maryland's game against Florida State because of back and shoulder injuries, Terps Coach Ralph Friedgen asked his quarterback whether he was comfortable throwing.

"And I couldn't say that I was," Hollenbach recalled.

A little more than a week later, the comfort has mostly returned, and Hollenbach is in line to start Saturday's game at North Carolina.

He has been seeing a chiropractor for his back injury, which he described as an annoyance that should be gone by game time. The shoulder injury, which Friedgen described as a collarbone separation, could require offseason surgery, but in the meantime, Hollenbach said he was preparing to finish his first season as the Terps' starter.

"Right now, it's just kind of like a mental thing, being able to feel confident and really throwing how I did before" the injury, said Hollenbach, who remains second in the ACC in pass efficiency behind Virginia Tech's Marcus Vick. "I still have a little bit of reserve doing that and I think that's something that has gotten better each day. I can honestly say that I feel like I'm getting closer to just throwing the way I normally did before."

The Terps need to win two of their final three games to be eligible for a postseason bowl.

Hollenbach said that offseason surgery could be an option, but Friedgen said the injury could also heal on its own. The coach said Hollenbach made two strong upfield throws in a two-minute drill Monday night, and that "his arm is back and he's ready to throw."

"I don't think he's like he was before he got hurt, but . . . I think he's back towards being able to play in a full capacity, let's put it that way," Friedgen said.

Hollenbach was hurt on a 22-yard option run against Virginia Tech, his longest run of the year. He scrambled three more times in that game, and Friedgen said the shoulder injury likely would have no effect on his offensive game plan.

"We've got to run our offense," he said. "Obviously, we're concerned at how well he'll hold up, [but] I think we've been really doing everything we've done before. I'm hoping that he'll be able to run the whole thing."

Heyer to Redshirt

Left tackle Stephon Heyer, who tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during preseason practice and has not played this season, said yesterday he would accept a redshirt and return for a fifth season in College Park. Heyer, 6 feet 7 and 319 pounds, said he thought he needed another season to audition for NFL scouts.

Heyer, who said he would graduate next December, initially recoiled from thoughts of another year of college football.

"When you're a senior, you're ready to go, you know what I mean?" Heyer said. "So that was one of my thought processes in the whole situation: Was I ready to endure it all over again? Frankly, I am. I'm ready to do what I need to do to graduate, to look better, to play better."

In his absence, 6-9, 330-pound freshman Jared Gaither has shown rapid improvement at left tackle, and the Terps will now have five offensive linemen with significant starting experience next season. Moore Gets the Nod

Sophomore defensive lineman Dre Moore will move into the starting lineup, replacing sophomore Jack Griffin, Friedgen said. Moore, who is from Charlotte, has played extensively in recent games and has 14 tackles this season. Griffin, who has 10 tackles, will continue to receive playing time. . . .

Safety Milton Harris, who suffered a concussion against Florida State, returned to practice Monday. He is wearing a non-contact jersey in practice this week but should be available against North Carolina, Friedgen said. Sophomore running back Keon Lattimore, who missed the Florida State game because of a shoulder injury, is back to full speed, Friedgen said. Wide receiver Jo Jo Walker has an undisclosed leg injury and is questionable, Friedgen said. . . .

Friedgen again declined to name the three players who were suspended a game each for their involvement in a bar fight on Halloween night, saying, "I'm not talking about it any more."

Wide receiver Drew Weatherly, who sources said is one of the suspended players, has been limited in practice by what Friedgen described as a concussion. The coach said Weatherly was questionable for North Carolina.