Terps see Clemson as chance to forget about Florida State

November 11, 1992|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,Staff Writer

COLLEGE PARK -- Redemption. Another chance. Atonement.

Take your choice. Those are the words that apply to the goal of the University of Maryland football team this week during preparations for the season finale against Clemson.

No one wanted last week's 69-21 loss at Florida State to be the final game of coach Mark Duffner's first year.

"Thank God we had another game," said linebacker Mike Jarmolowich. "I'd hate to end my career with a loss like that on national TV. But we can't dwell on it.

"Now we've got a chance to play before our home fans and show everybody we've got some pride left, show that last week wasn't Maryland football."

Duffner, too, is grateful that there is still more football left.

"It is gigantic that we have another opportunity," said Duffner. "We put that game behind us, hit our knees and gave thanks [that it wasn't the end]."

So, after watching the prototype for the team Duffner hopes to build, the Terps can finish in an upbeat mood by beating an old Atlantic Coast Conference rival at Byrd Stadium on Saturday.

If there was one lesson to be learned from the pounding by the Seminoles, it is that Maryland must get faster.

"They say speed kills, and last Saturday it killed us," said Jarmolowich. "They just ran by people. It's a top-notch program that gives Maryland something to shoot for."

During the coming recruiting season, the Terps will work to correct their primary weakness.

"Every year you try to get the most athletic people you can," said Duffner. "But it is obvious we need faster, quicker players to have a chance for success. If we have to make a decision, we'll take those [qualities] over size."

The Terps have not beaten Clemson since 1985, or at Byrd Stadium since 1980. The Tigers (5-4) are coming off a 40-7 victory over North Carolina in which they discovered their passing game behind freshman Patrick Sapp and remained in contention for an eighth straight bowl bid.

Still, they aren't Florida State, a juggernaut that prompted Duffner to say, "If they are any better than they were against us, they need to be playing on Sunday instead of Saturday."

To defeat Clemson, the Terps must somehow stiffen defensively -- they allowed 858 yards last week. It won't be easy against a team that is masterful at controlling the ball, which will keep it away from Maryland's strength, an offense that ranks second nationally in passing and 11th overall.

"I feel bad," said Jarmolowich. "The defense is supposed to control the game, and we've been letting up too many points. Our offense is scoring enough. It's discouraging to see them do so much work, only to come out with losses.

"That's the frustrating part of this season. Still, we can't point fingers. We're a team."

Duffner is encouraged by the attitude of his players in the face of the school's fifth losing record in the past six years.

"We've gained a tremendous amount in terms of experience," he said. "Attitude development is the No. 1 thing that we've improved on."

Maryland will be losing 28 seniors, including its four co-captains: Jarmolowich, Marcus Badgett, Scott Rosen and Darren Drozdov.

The heaviest hits come in the defensive secondary and at linebacker.

Each day during the practice week, Duffner is "assigning a little part of the day to the seniors. They will be the focus."

One of those seniors, John Kaleo, who is No. 1 in the nation in total offense, will start at quarterback against Clemson despite an effective cameo performance by freshman Scott Milanovich last week.

"I would have liked to have Scott take a heck of a lot more snaps," said Duffner. "But I think Kaleo has done a fantastic job and I'm happy for him."

NOTES: Jarmolowich probably will become only the third player in Terps history with more than 400 tackles. He needs six. . . . Clemson's rushing attack ranks fourth in the country with a 275.2-yard average, and its defense has allowed two touchdowns by running. . . . The Tigers held the ball for 42:58 against North Carolina, a school record, and ran 92 plays.

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