The University of Maryland has lost its past two football games by a combined score of 76-20. The offense has been inconsistent, and the once-proud defense was humiliated last week against Georgia Tech.
Today, Maryland (3-3 overall, 1-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) wil try to seek some redemption when the Terps are host to Wake Forest (2-3, 1-2) at noon at Byrd Stadium, the last home game of the 1990 season.
Meanwhile, at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium i Annapolis, Navy (2-3) will try to break a two-game losing streak against Akron (3-2-1).
"As far as I'm concerned, we have to prove ourselves again," said Maryland outside linebacker Jack Bradford. "Not too many people expected us to win early in the season, and we did. Now that we've lost the last two, we've got to get those believers back."
Maryland wide receiver Barry Johnson said: "We've got to regain that momentum. Early in the season, we just hustled our butts off all the time. We knew that if we played hard, good things would come. We've got to get back to that same type of intensity."
If the Terps do, good things could follow. This is the prim opportunity in the schedule for Maryland to claim its first winning season since 1985. After Wake Forest today, Maryland plays at Duke (2-3, 0-2) and North Carolina (4-2, 1-1) before closing out the season with Penn State and No. 2 Virginia.
But the Terps aren't looking too far ahead. Coach Joe Kriva won't let them.
"Wake Forest is the seventh game on the schedule, and right now the most important one," he said. "We don't want to get too far ahead. I still think two conference losses might be able to get you a share of the conference championship. There's a couple of good conference matchups down the road, so anything can happen. It'll be interesting."
Wake Forest's passing game against Maryland's secondary ma interesting, too. Georgia Tech's Shawn Jones was the latest quarterback to have success against the Terps, completing 15 of 25 passes for 271 yards and a touchdown.
Wake Forest senior quarterback Phil Barnhill doesn't have Jones' running ability, but his arm is just as strong. Barnhill has completed 63 of 141 passes for 758 yards. His favorite receiver is split end Steve Brown, who has 16 receptions for 223 yards.
Maryland is allowing 189.0 passing yards per game.
"Barnhill is more than an adequate quarterback," said Krivak. "H throws the ball very well, has a strong arm and a quick release. They will throw the ball all over the field."
Wake Forest coach Bill Dooley sounded just as impressed with Maryland's defense.
"Maryland has big, strong and fast people who really get afte you," Dooley said. "Linemen Larry Webster and Rick Fleece are two excellent ballplayers. Maryland is a veteran team and has played a very difficult schedule. It's their final home game, and I know they'll come in with a lot of emotion."
Defensively, Wake Forest has had its problems. The Demon Deacons are next to last in total defense in the conference, allowing 350.8 yards. Last week, Wake Forest allowed 21 second-half points in a 31-24 loss to North Carolina.
Navy is coming off perhaps its worst effort of the year in las week's 24-7 loss at Air Force that eliminated the Midshipmen from contention for the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy. With that competition -- and a chance to play in the Liberty Bowl -- behind them, the Midshipmen will be looking to give coach George Chaump his first win at Navy over a Division I-A opponent. Navy is 0-3 against such opponents this season.
Against Air Force, Navy made a season low 13 first downs against the Falcons and gained just 31 yards on 31 rushing attempts.
"I think the players are somewhat embarrassed," Chaump said "We're tying to do everything necessary to win and turn it around. We hope the satisfaction is more redeeming."
The game will be the first time the teams have faced each other. Akron was one of the two teams added to the schedule when Navy decided not to renew contracts to play Syracuse and Pittsburgh.
Akron, in its fourth season of Division I-A football, is a notch ahead of Boston College (a 28-17 winner over Navy), Chaump said, and in no way does he feel Navy will have an easy time.
"The reputation of Akron isn't on par with the other teams we have lost to, and if we do lose, we will really suffer psychologically," Chaump said. "But people who don't know Akron will say, 'How did you get beat by them?' People just don't know good Akron is."
Coached by Gerry Faust, the Zips are good enough to average 26.7 points per game. And cornerback Ozzie Jackson, recovering from surgery on his right shoulder, has five interceptions for a defense that leads the nation in that category with 19.
"Our secondary is small, but the kids there play with a lot of confidence," Faust said of a group that averages 5 feet 10 and 180 pounds. "They're aggressive kids and have done an excellent job."
Navy will enter the game short-handed on defense with the loss of three starters. Outside linebackers Duke Ingraham (pinched nerve in neck) and Anthony Domino (shoulder separation) and inside linebacker Chris Beck (pinched nerve in neck) will not play.
Chaump said yesterday he still did not know whether Alton Grizzard or Gary McIntosh would start at quarterback. McIntosh got his first start in over a year last week after Grizzard missed the game with a bruised lung.