Friedgen's Dream Comes True
Maryland Coach Ralph Friedgen had some time to kill before freshman place kicker Nick Ferrara attempted the most important field goal of his recently begun Maryland career, so he decided to recount a dream he'd had the previous night to his coaches up in the press box. During a James Madison timeout designed to freeze Ferrara, Friedgen revealed into his headset that he'd dreamed the Terrapins would win Saturday's game against James Madison on an overtime field goal attempted on third down.
Which was convenient because at that moment, Maryland faced a third and six in overtime against a James Madison squad that had proved peskier than the Terrapins anticipated.
Ferrara lined up for his 26-yard attempt, awaited the snap and then charged toward the ball.
"As soon as I tapped the ball off my foot, as soon as I hit it, I was like, ‘That’s in.’ I didn’t even have to look up. And then I looked up right after and I was like: ‘Yes, it’s going in. Thank God,’" Ferrara said. "And then I started running around. I didn’t know what to do besides run. I was afraid I was going to get injured from getting hit or something. That would happen to me."
It didn't, which was a plus considering the Terrapins already had lost senior defensive back Nolan Carroll earlier that night to a broken leg. Carroll is expected to miss the remainder of the season.
But in the moments after Ferrara ensured Maryland would not have to explain how it lost to a division I-AA opponent in its home opener one week after getting hammered on the road, all the freshman from Hicksville, N.Y., could do was jump and scream and pump his fists.
Not once during his high school days at St. Anthony's did Ferrara ever attempt a game-winning field goal, much less an overtime game-winning field goal. He'd also likely never before fulfilled the bizarre dreams of his head coach.
Friedgen "told us that after the game," Ferrara said. "He didn’t tell me anything about that during the game and I’m happy he didn’t. Because think about that; if someone tells you, you’re going to be thinking the whole game, ‘Oh God, I’ve got to kick a game-winner. Now what happens if I kick it wrong; then his dream is ruined.’"
Offensive coordinator James Franklin wasn't all that concerned with Friedgen's dream. He was still trying to convince his boss to let the offense run the ball one more time. Tailback Da'Rel Scott, who played despite dealing with strep throat, had rushed twice for 12 yards on that overtime drive. Quarterback Chris Turner ran once and picked up six yards.
"I’m arguing with Ralph because I want to keep running the ball because I think we’re going to score," Franklin said. "And he’s like, 'Well let’s just kick the field goal on third down because now if they block it we can kick it again on fourth down.' Which, he’s right. That’s why he’s the head coach and makes the big bucks. But as the offensive coordinator, I’m like, ‘[Shoot], we’re running the ball. Let’s score.’"
Instead, Friedgen turned to his kicking team and reminded them to recover the football if the Dukes blocked the kick because if they did, Maryland would get another shot on fourth down. Aware that his kicker also was within earshot of his command, Friedgen sought out Ferrara and told him not to worry. The Coach told the Kid he had complete confidence the kick would be true.
"I was nervous and then they called the timeout and I thought, 'What am I nervous for?' " Ferrara said. "This is a chip shot. It’s fine."
For one week, at least. The Terrapins allowed 268 rushing yards, picked up 11 penalties and lost another key player to injury. But they discovered a kicker who proved he can come through in situations only his coach could dream up.
"That kid is just a freshman," Friedgen said. "He’s probably oblivious to what’s going on. Maybe that’s good."
Posted by: carolina1 | September 13, 2009 10:38 AM | Report abuse
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