The 1992 University of Maryland football squad has had only a few practices under new coach Mark Duffner, but already it's clear to everyone that things are different at College Park.
Jaime (pronounced Hymie) Flores told me so before practice yesterday, and I always believe young men like him.
Flores, 22, is a Baltimorean, a resident of the Fells Point area. Good ol' Balmer boys speak the truth. Flores played his high school football at Poly under coach Augie Waibel.
"Coach Waibel is a great coach," Flores says. Coach Waibel is also a character builder. When his players tell you something, you can believe them.
Also, Flores is a muscular 6-foot-2, 229-pound outside linebacker, not the kind of guy it's wise to argue with.
And what's so different about Maryland football now?
"Everything's different," said Flores, a redshirt junior in his fourth year in the program, the first three of which were played under coach Joe Krivak. "Everything's better, too.
"The attitude's better. The way everybody's working is better. I've never worked so hard in my life, but we're enjoying it. The younger coaching staff is better. Even the food is better."
Flores likes playing for Pete McCarty, the coach of the outside linebackers who came to Maryland with Duffner from Holy Cross. PTC Says Flores of McCarty, who helped develop a group that had 45 sacks last year: "He's a good man."
Flores says nobody stands around under Duffner. Every practice session is conducted in an up-tempo fashion. Players run off the field instead of walking off.
"It's not just a new coaching staff," says Flores, a kinesiological sciences major. "This really is the start of a new era."
Does all this mean the Terps will win more games? Don't forget, Maryland has been picked seventh in the Atlantic Coast Conference in a preseason poll of conference reporters.
"Under coach Krivak," Flores says, "we lost so much [the Terps were 2-9 last year] that it became routine. I think we'll win a lot of games this year."
Let's hope he's is right.
C7 Duffner seems to be getting through to his players.
Asked yesterday what he considers his first goal, he answered: "Establishing a great attitude. If we do that, the X's and O's will fall in place."
By the way, Byrd Stadium is really beginning to look like the home of big-time football, although its 45,000-seat capacity is about half that of regular opponents Penn State and Clemson. Built in 1950, Byrd is getting a long overdue facelift.
The new football building, which is in use though not officially open yet, has spacious locker rooms and weight rooms and better coaches' offices than even Joe Paterno's. The five-tiered Tyser press box, which opened one year ago, is second to none.
Maryland, with its new facilities, is perfectly equipped to be home to NCAA lacrosse's most important games next spring. The NCAA men's Final Four will be held there then -- and again in '95. The women's Final Four will also be held at Byrd next year, and so will the two-night ACC championship tournament.
* Baltimorean Quint Kessenich makes a good point regarding the number of fans who'll be coming to games of the Spirit, Skipjacks and Thunder at the Baltimore Arena this season.
"There should be more of them," says the ex-Johns Hopkins and present Mount Washington lacrosse goalie, "because of what's happening this summer. More people than ever are coming downtown to see Orioles games, and the new light rail trains go right down Howard Street and stop at the Arena."
* In that vein, Boog Powell's barbecue stand at Camden Yards is doing business in excess of the Booger's wildest dreams. So popular is the place that Boog wants to keep it open for downtown lunch business even when the O's are on the road.