Joe Krivak is an old pro when it comes to answering media questions. He knows how to reply politely without really saying anything.
When the Maryland football coach is asked about Jim Sandwisch, who will make his first start at quarterback when the Terps open against Virginia Saturday, he answers:
"He's the best we have. He's the one who's going to have to move the football team."
On Virginia, which was No. 1 in the country at midseason last year but has lost All-Americans Shawn Moore and Herman Moore:
"Virginia is still an excellent football team."
On it goes, and when the questioning is over those who are around Krivak on a daily basis say Joe sounds "optimistic."
I say he sounds noncommittal, that the optimism others detect is actually a reflection of the peace of mind Krivak feels with a new, four-year contract after having survived a close call with a pink slip last fall. Beating Virginia (35-30) and finishing 6-5 saved his job.
Except for Wake Forest, which was 0-7 in the Atlantic Coast Conference last year, Maryland doesn't have an easy game. Virginia, Syracuse, West Virginia is quite a triad for openers.
With a new QB and a new offensive line, the Terps will go 6-5 this year -- if they're lucky. Krivak could do a good job and so could Sandwisch and Maryland could wind up 5-6.
Sobering reminder: Louisiana Tech, the team Maryland tied, 34-34, in the Independence Bowl last December, was beaten 73-3 by Houston in its opener last weekend.
* For a moment during a visit to a Maryland practice this week I heard what I thought was a shocking thing from a football player.
"Who's that player sitting over there by himself?" I asked. "DeArmas," I was told. Ah, Dan DeArmas, the senior placekicker/punter, one of the great kickers in Terps history. I went over and asked him if he's pumped for this Virginia game.
"No, sir," he said. "I don't want to go out on that field."
"I'm hoping to be redshirted," DeArmas said. "It would be terrible to have to go out there because your brother got hurt."
This, I discovered, was Dan DeArmas' freshman brother, Dave, who was a USA Today first-team All-America place-kicker last year at DeMatha High. Dave will be happy to let Dan do the kicking. If anything happens to his big brother, Dave won't get the call anyway. Fred Ensign, a junior holdover, would. Somehow it's refreshing to see an 18-year-old freshman act like one.
* There's also a cozy little family situation at Navy, which opens Saturday night in Annapolis against Ball State. Paul Schudel, the Ball State coach, has a son, Glenn, on the Navy team.
"Have you learned anything about Navy from talking to your son?" Schudel was asked yesterday.
"No," said the coach. "I've talked with him but all I ask him is how he likes the Naval Academy and whether he's enjoying playing football there. But try to get a scouting report from my son? We're a little smarter than that."
Young Schudel is a center who played last year at Ohio Wesleyan. As a transfer, he can only practice with Navy.