No question, Terps are searching for answers in 1993 Duffner looking for improvement COLLEGE FOOTBALL

August 12, 1993|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,Staff Writer

COLLEGE PARK -- Approximately 70 veterans report to football camp at Maryland today, and there are nearly as many questions facing coach Mark Duffner and his staff.

The Terps lost 28 seniors and several other regulars left a 3-8 team that finished eighth in the nine-team Atlantic Coast Conference. A few questions will be answered early in Duffner's second season, and others won't be settled until after the season.

Here are 10 of the bigger questions facing the Terps:

* Can Mark Mason avoid a third season-ending injury?

When healthy, the senior superback is among the best all-purpose running backs in the nation, but Mason hasn't been able to get past the fifth game the past two seasons.

Mason led the ACC in all-purpose yardage last season, but fractured his left shoulder blade against Pittsburgh in Week 5 and didn't play again. He was also the ACC leader as a sophomore, but suffered a broken tibia against Georgia Tech. Mason sat out contact drills in the spring, but is a notorious weight-room worker and ready to produce again.

* Is the defense improved?

Despite having a senior-dominated defense in 1992, the Terps ranked 100th among 107 Division I-A teams in points allowed.

Of last season's top 12 tacklers, end Mark Sturdivant was the only one to participate in all spring drills. There have been numerous position switches and younger players elevated on the depth chart, and Duffner said he hopes that a second year in the system will help. But it's the first year for several players who could be asked to contribute immediately.

* Is Scott Milanovich ready to guide the offense?

Some thought he was in 1992. Before embarking on his record-setting season, John Kaleo first had to win the quarterback job, and a week before the opener Milanovich apparently thought it was his. He's always had the arm, and now he's improved his mobility.

* How far ahead of Kevin Foley is Milanovich?

Spring practice began and ended with Milanovich No. 1 and Foley No. 2 on the depth chart. There's no quarterback controversy, but Foley ran the run-and-shoot offense in high school, and will make Milanovich work to keep the position.

"The first quarterback is Milanovich, and the second is Foley," Duffner said. "Whatever happens there, happens."

* Are there enough veterans?

Senior leadership is high on every coach's list of cliches, but, at the most, Maryland can expect to have 10 healthy seniors. As few as five could start in the opener against Virginia on Sept. 4.

The program is loaded with young talent, and many 18- and 19-year-olds must mature in a hurry. Milanovich is a redshirt sophomore who threw 30 passes in four games last year, and the last sophomore to lead the Terps in passing was Boomer Esiason in 1981. Foley, the backup, is a redshirt freshman.

* Has Raphael Wall found a home at strong safety?

A junior from Wilde Lake, Wall has spent the past two seasons bouncing from kick returner to running back to defensive back. He wants one position and to do it well, and he probably got his wish in spring practice, when he was installed at strong safety, or roverback in the Terps' terminology.

Maryland was burned by the big play too many times to count in 1992, and Wall is one of the not-so-new faces on defense.

* Will Larry Washington begin to live up to the expectations placed on him?

Washington was The Sun's Male Athlete of the Year for Randallstown High in 1990-91, and touted as one of the state's best backs ever.

He made an impact as a true freshman, when he was Maryland's third-leading rusher, but 1992 was a season to forget. After admitting to one charge of felony forgery of a credit card, Washington was suspended by Duffner and missed two games, and played in only three games before a season-ending knee injury.

Washington will come to camp behind Mason and Doug Burnett on the depth chart.

* Is Lonny Calicchio ready to kick at the I-A level?

At least one member of the incoming class is expected to play right away. Calicchio, a punter-kicker, was a junior-college All-American, and he doesn't appear to be fazed by the prospect big crowds and television audiences. Besides, the Terps don't go to Death Valley (Clemson) until Oct. 30.

* Is this Steve Ingram's last season at Maryland?

Anyone good enough can jump to the NFL, and Ingram, 6-5, 300 pounds, may declare himself eligible for the draft next spring. The Terps' best offensive lineman is a 22-year-old, fifth-year junior who will decide at the end of the season if he'll try to go pro or stay for 1994.

* Can Maryland avoid more fourth-quarter collapses?

The Terps were in position to beat Virginia, North Carolina State, West Virginia, Wake Forest and North Carolina last year, but lost each game. Duffner said conditioning wasn't a factor, that it's a matter of getting the right people and having them execute the proper techniques and schemes.

Duffner will begin seeing if the right people are on the field Saturday, when the Terps have their first full-squad practice.

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