News and Notes- Practice 8/26

Terps spent Thursday's practice preparing for Navy's triple option attack.

If it looks like Maryland head coach Ralph Friedgen hasn’t gotten much sleep over the past week, there’s only one answer – the triple option.

On Thursday, the team held a mock game consisting of scripted plays and tag-offs instead of tackling. It was the first time Friedgen tried a practice like this, but left the field feeling satisfied with the results.

“I really didn’t know how it was going to go. It was my first time I’ve ever done that. But I think it went better than I anticipated. I really accomplished what I wanted to without anyone getting hurt.”

Offensively, it was the same old story. They are still having problems with penalties, but Friegen is seeing some improvement.

“We still had a couple penalties,” Friedgen said. “Not like we did last week, but still that’s foolish.”

On the defensive side of the ball, defensive coordinator Don Brown prepared his players for the infamous triple option offense. The scout team, playing the role of the Navy Midshipmen, was showing an unconventional look. The twist, you may ask – no footballs.

“One of the things we’re trying to do is – we practice without a ball,” Friedgen explained.” “What we’ve been doing is we run the option and if nobody tackles you then you keep running. So if a guy blows an assignment that guy’s in the end zone.”

“Most of the option stuff we do without a ball,” he added.

To stop a triple option offense, a team must recognize where the dive man, pitch man and quarterback are at all times (hence the term: triple option). But Friedgen sees the practicing without a ball as a rather effective method.

“We tell them the dive and the quarterback got to be wrapped up, we’ll tag off on the pitch. But you’d be surprised to see how many times the guy comes free,” Friegen said. “It allows those kids to play faster because you take the fumbling part out of it.”

While the coach acknowledged that other teams have practiced this way in the past, the Terps added another element: “What I’ve kind of added to it is that if the quarterback comes out and the guys play him, he actually goes through the pitch – the guy actually goes through catching it and then he runs like he has the ball. But then if no one tackles the quarterback after he’s pitches it, I tell him to duck up. That’s what we want to do – take care of [the quarterback] and the dive.”

Next week, Friedgen said he plans on simulating some of the cuts for the dive man, pitch man and quarterback, and even putting the football back into the picture.

The team also underwent a special teams run through which includes kickoffs, kickoff returns, punts, punt blocks, punt returns and field goals.

Friedgen said field goals were better today. However, the team did not have last year’s Freshman All-American on board to kick. Nick Ferrara is suffering from a groin pull. He was replaced in practice by three-time ACC All-Academic Team punter, Travis Baltz.

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