Sandwisch tries to weather storm of criticism for Terps' lost season

November 13, 1991|By Doug Brown | Doug Brown,Evening Sun Staff

COLLEGE PARK -- Jim Sandwisch was struggling to his feet after being driven out of bounds by a Penn State tackler when he heard the cutting remark.

"Hit him harder," a Maryland fan bellowed. "Maybe he'll play harder."

Such is the abuse heaped on the quarterback of a Maryland team that is 2-7. With two games left, the first one Saturday at No. 15 Clemson, Sandwisch is holding up under the sniping "pretty well" by relying on his family and teammates for moral support.

"Win together, lose together," Sandwisch said. "I know, I'm the quarterback, so I'm the visible one. It's easy to point fingers. I'm trying to take it in stride."

Sandwisch's parents, Sharon and Larry of Great Mills in southern Maryland, sat in Memorial Stadium during the Terps' loss to Penn State Saturday and listened to epithets hurled by fans at Maryland and at Sandwisch in particular.

"Sandwisch, you stink," one spectator shouted, although he used a nastier word than stink.

"Throw the [expletive deleted] ball to Thomas," another hollered, unaware that receiver Gene Thomas was covered.

"My father can handle it, the cursing and all," Sandwisch said. "But I feel bad that my mother has to listen to that stuff."

When the Terps' season began to unravel, the coaches counseled Sandwisch, who, though a senior, came into the year virtually untested under game conditions.

"Jim is thick-skinned enough," quarterbacks coach Jerry Eisaman said. "He knew if we didn't win, there would be adversity. We told him people would be saying things and that he had to focus on what he needed to do, not on what they were saying."

Sandwisch hasn't been fully healthy since he suffered a bruised shoulder in the opening win over Virginia. A throat infection also set him back for a week or so early in the season.

But he has played in all nine games, starting eight. His shoulder remains sore, although not enough to keep him out and not enough, in the coaches' opinion, to alter their belief that he is the team's best quarterback.

Sandwisch started against Penn State and was eventually relieved by John Kaleo, who was in for about 20 plays. The coaches will take the same approach against Clemson.

"If Jimmy isn't doing it, we'll see if John can," Eisaman said.

Sandwisch has completed 49 percent of his passes, which puts him next-to-last in the eight-team Atlantic Coast Conference, ahead only of North Carolina State's Geoff Bender. Under the ACC's quarterbacks rating system, Sandwisch is a distant last.

Sandwisch has lost for the season his best tailback (Mark Mason to a broken leg) and two starting offensive linemen (Steve Ingram, broken leg, and Kevin Arline, knee surgery). That has made his job that much harder.

"My father reminds me it's not a one-man game," Sandwisch said. "We've had bad times; things have fallen apart. We lost Mason, Ingram, Arline and some guys on defense. All of this has had an effect on the team's intensity and attitude."

The remaining games are against strong teams -- Clemson and then N.C. State Nov. 23. Finally, it will be over.

"I don't really want the season to go," Sandwisch said. "I have good friends on the team and I like the university. But it's been a tough season. In a way, I'll be glad when it's over."

*

Freshman running back Larry Washington says his shoulder that was re-injured against Penn State is improving. "I'll probably play," he said.

Senior place-kicker Dan DeArmas also is expected to be available. He had a bout with food poisoning after eating mussels at an unnamed restaurant after the Penn State game, according to his brother, Dave, a freshman kicker.

*

The last time Maryland was burdened with a 2-7 record was 1971. The team that inflicted defeat No. 7 was the same one that did it this time, Penn State, by a 63-27 score. The Terps went on to drop their last two, as well, to Clemson and Virginia.

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