Friedgen plans to 'challenge' MOH Bowl players

Medal of Honor Bowl American team head coach Ralph Friedgen talks with Louisiana-Lafayette tight end Ian Thompson during practice Monday. (Brad Nettles/Staff) 1/6/14

Known for his imaginative offenses at Georgia Tech and Maryland, coach Ralph Friedgen is not about to dumb things down for his gig at the Medal of Honor Bowl.

With just five days to prepare his team for Saturday's all-star game at Johnson Hagood Stadium, Friedgen expects his offensive players to learn a relatively sophisticated scheme in a short time frame.

"We'll keep things basic on defense," Friedgen said Monday before the American squad held its first practice at The Citadel. "But I'm going to challenge them offensively. We can always throw things out.

"But these pro scouts want to see how much you can handle mentally, too. We threw a bunch at them today. We'll see how much they can learn."

Friedgen, who coached at Maryland from 2001-2010, said he's been working on his game plan for more than a month. Several members of his coaching staff, including veteran coaches Cal McCombs, Fisher DeBerry and Bobby Johnson, live in or close to Charleston, making planning for practices easier.

"I have to coach my coaches up," said Friedgen, 66. "I call them the over-the-hill gang. I've only got two coaches under 60."

Friedgen and National team coach Chan Gailey were chosen, in part, for their ability to put together an offense in short order.

"It's difficult," said Brian Woods, executive director of the Medal of Honor Bowl. "You bring in a whole group of players and have to do an installation in four or five days. You'd really like to have another week for something like that.

"But we have two great offensive minds in the coaches, and they can make it happen in a few days."

The onus will especially be on the quarterbacks to show that they can absorb information quickly. The quarterbacks for the National team are Casey Pachall (Texas Christian), Corey Robinson (Troy) and Kory Faulkner (Southern Illinois). Tyler Tettleton (Ohio) and Danny O'Brien (Catawba) will be under center for the American team.

"Most of them have been with their respective teams and coaches for three or four years," said Raleigh McKenzie, a scout for the Oakland Raiders. "So this gives us an opportunity to look at another aspect of what they can do. How quickly can they grasp terminology and techniques, how quickly can they mesh with their teammates? It's the whole gamut."

NFL scouts got their first up-close look at the Medal of Honor Bowl players at Monday's weigh-in at Charleston Harbor and Marina Resort.

"It's quite a show," said Woods. "The scouts want to get accurate measurements in height and weight, something that your typical college media guide does not provide. And they want to get a look at their body makeup, as well."

After Monday's practices, the teams were set to watch the BCS national championship game between Auburn and Florida State at the Cinebarre theater in Mount Pleasant. On the schedule for today are morning interviews with NFL scouts and the media and the NFL coaches luncheon at Hibernian Hall, followed by afternoon practices at The Citadel.

The Medal of Honor Bowl's Fellowship of Christian Athletes Breakfast on Wednesday was moved to the Omar Shrine Temple on Patriots Point Boulevard in Mount Pleasant. The event was originally scheduled to be held on the aircraft carrier Yorktown, but was moved because of the expected freezing temperatures.

The breakfast begins at 7:30 a.m. and is open to the public. The cost is $20 per person. Reservations are not required.