The first time Bruce Perry opened his mouth in spring practice,
Scott McBrien knew the senior running back was his old self
again. Perry excitedly bounced around the Terrapins' practice
fields, chattered constantly and talked trash to defenders. This
was in contrast to the Perry who last fall quietly labored
through abdominal, groin and shoulder injuries, which limited him
to 341 yards rushing in six games. "The change in his demeanor
really has been night and day," says McBrien, a senior
That means Maryland, which had a 21-5 record over the last two
years, including 11-3 last season, has its best offensive weapon
back at full strength. Perry added 15 pounds to his 5'9" frame to
get up to 207 and is ready to prove he's the same player who as a
sophomore rushed for 1,242 yards and was the ACC's Offensive
Player of the Year. "I think I'll bring some maturity and
leadership to the offense," Perry says. "I'll help provide a
sense of identity and an overall presence."
Although last season the Terps got an ACC-best 1,154 rushing
yards from Chris Downs, who graduated, they missed Perry's
electric performance. "He brings a lot to the table," McBrien
says. "He's tough, he has speed, and he has great hands. Having a
player like him takes a lot of pressure off me. You know he's
going to get his yards."
As will McBrien, who as a first-year starter in 2002 threw for
2,497 yards and 15 touchdowns and had a 141.3 passing-efficiency
rating. Six of his top seven wide receivers return from an
offense that scored 32.2 points per game, as do three starters
along the line. The defense, led by senior linebacker Leon Joe
(103 tackles), is even more stacked.
It's no wonder that coach Ralph Friedgen preached against
complacency during spring drills. "We've been successful the last
two years because we were unselfish and we played for a common
cause," Friedgen says. "Everybody had a role and played it well.
We may have more talent now, but the question remains as to
whether we can play together. The more you win, the harder that
is to do."
Perry appreciates that message as much as anybody. He spent most
of last season rising at 6 a.m. to rehab his injuries, futilely
trying to practice and standing on the sideline on game days.
This year he'll be making sure his teammates work hard. "I'm
proof that we had better take advantage of our chances," Perry
says, "because you never know when they'll be taken away."
COLOR PHOTO: NICK WASS/AP JUMP START In his first season running the offense, McBrien threw for 2,497 yards and surprised coaches with his rushing ability.
2002 RECORD 11-3 (6-2, T2 in ACC)
FINAL AP RANK 13
RETURNING STARTERS 17
KEY RETURNEES (2002 stats)
QB Scott McBrien (Sr.)
12th in the nation in passing efficiency
RB Bruce Perry (Sr.)
Averaged 4.7 yards on 72 carries
CB Domonique Foxworth (Jr.)
Led Terrapins with five interceptions
FS Madieu Williams (Sr.)
All-America candidate anchors secondary
DT Randy Starks (Jr.)
93 tackles including 6 1/2 sacks
Punt returns for TDs by Steve Suter last season, breaking the
Terps' career record of three set by Bob Smith (1972 through '74).
Coach Ralph Friedgen didn't lack for volunteers to fill the shoes
of departed All-America linebacker E.J. Henderson, but sophomore
D'Qwell Jackson quickly proved he was the best fit. Though he's
undersized for the position (6'1", 222), Jackson has great
instincts and good vision.
Aug. 28 at Northern Illinois
Sept. 6 at Florida State
13 THE CITADEL
20 WEST VIRGINIA
27 at Eastern Michigan
Oct. 4 CLEMSON
23 at Georgia Tech
Nov. 1 NORTH CAROLINA
22 at N.C. State
29 at Wake Forest