Friedgen shuns sentiment in return to GTech

Updated: October 21, 2003, 3:58 PM ET

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- It's been three years since he served as an assistant football coach at Georgia Tech, yet Ralph Friedgen still has a home and dozens of close friends in Atlanta.

His familiarity with the Yellow Jackets is such that he knows standout wide receiver Jonathan Smith is nicknamed "Fred" because his favorite cartoon is The Flintstones.

Time hasn't done much to diminish Friedgen's feelings toward the school where he spent nine seasons. But all that sentiment will be pushed aside Thursday night, when Friedgen leads Maryland into Atlanta to face Georgia Tech in a pivotal Atlantic Coast Conference game.

"We're going on a business trip. They're not going to be real nice to me, and I don't plan on being real nice to them either," Friedgen said Tuesday.

Maryland's head coach is certain to run into plenty of people with whom he formed a tight bond while serving at Georgia Tech from 1987-91 and 1997-2000.

"Atlanta has been so good to me; Georgia Tech has been good to me," Friedgen said. "I'm going to retire there, so it's always a special place for me."

This trip, however, will be all about leading Maryland (5-2, 2-1) to its sixth straight victory.

The game is somewhat reminiscent of a meeting two years ago in Atlanta, when Maryland recorded a 20-17 overtime victory en route to its first ACC title since 1985.

"Beating a nationally ranked opponent at their place gave us the confidence at the time that we could win those kind of games," Friedgen said. "That win really helped this program."

An encore Thursday night would enable the Terrapins to remain in second place in the ACC and keep them on course for a third straight bowl appearance following the 10-year drought that preceded Friedgen's arrival.

Coming off a bye week, the Terrapins are rested and ready to extend the league's longest winning streak. Running back Bruce Perry, hampered by a high ankle sprain the entire season, is "as healthy as he's been in a long time," Friedgen said.

Perry and Josh Allen will be testing the 19th-ranked rushing defense in the nation. That might mean more throws for Scott McBrien, who has performed well this season but still hasn't matched his stellar play in practice.

That might change Thursday night.

"He has been very, very in tune this week," Friedgen said. "Scott doesn't talk to me a lot, but he mumbled something to me yesterday in practice. I said, `What did you say?' and he said, `This week.'

I said, `This week what?' and he said, `This week I'm taking it from the practice field to the game."

Having Perry behind him can only help. Perry, a 5-foot-10 senior, has thus far only shown flashes of the form he displayed as ACC offensive player of the year in 2001.

"If we can get him and Scott playing to the top of their ability, I think our offense will really pick up," Friedgen said. "I hope Bruce is able to finish his career the way I know he can play. I know it's been frustrating for him."

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index