Thrilling finale gave Terps season to remember in some ways Record-setting offense offset by history-making defense

November 22, 1993|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,Staff Writer

A year ago, Maryland finished its season with a stunning upset of Clemson. It came at the end of a 3-8 season that was coach Mark Duffner's first in College Park, and it was supposed to be a reminder of the Terps' capabilities and a springboard for 1993.

Maybe that will be realized the second time around.

The Terps had another disappointing season, but they'll vividly remember the way it ended. Saturday at Wake Forest they got a 33-32, last-second victory in which -- for once -- the defense, offense and special teams all produced when it counted. The Terps were able to send a handful of seniors out as winners, but the bigger picture shows that Maryland went 2-9 and is 7-26 since playing a bowl game in 1990.

Duffner harbors no illusions about the gulf between Maryland's talent and that at the top of the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Terps used fewer than 50 scholarship players in several games this season, and most weeks it wasn't nearly enough to deal with one of the nation's strongest schedules -- eight of their 11 opponents could end up in bowl games.

If it was the best of times for the Terps offense, which stayed relatively healthy and let sophomore quarterback Scott Milanovich set a slew of records, it was the worst of times for the defense. Other than a shoulder injury that kept wide receiver Jermaine Lewis out of the last three games, every severe injury that hit Maryland subtracted from its defense, which set as many negative records as the offense did positive. It began the year inexperienced, and grew more so.

When Wake Forest's John Leach rambled 42 yards three minutes into the third quarter Saturday, the Terps' status as the worst statistical defense in NCAA Division I-A history was secure.

With the exception of the Duke win, it seemed that every week a previously unheralded quarterback or running back piled up career-high yardage. In the opener, leader Mark Sturdivant left with a broken leg, and Virginia got 473 yards and 43 points, and the numbers got out of control.

The Terps couldn't mount a pass rush and the coverage was faulty, but the coaches winced as much at poor tackling as they did missed assignments.

Eight of the Terps' top 12 tacklers were first-year players, and only two of the top 14 are out of eligibility, but the returnees know that the coaching staff can't afford to stand pat.

"I'm excited about some of the young players we have, but we've got to have some recruiting success to turn the defense around," Duffner said. "We graduate three linemen [Jaime Flores, Madison Bradley and Sturdivant], but we need players everywhere on defense."

Despite the defense's needs, the recruiting priority is a kicker. The Terps lost a junior-college All-American in the preseason to ineligibility, and they made only one field goal.

The outlook is considerably more optimistic on offense, which loses only two starters. Leading rusher Mark Mason (616 yards) and wide receiver Jason Kremus (37 catches for 576 yards) leave positions where depth isn't a problem.

The entire offensive line is back, as are deep threat Lewis, who had 52 catches in eight games, and Russ Weaver, a possession type who tied the school record with 14 receptions at Wake Forest. It gave him 69 catches, the second-highest total in Terps history and fourth-best in ACC history.

Milanovich didn't operate like a 20-year-old who has two more seasons to tinker with the run-and-shoot. Maryland was usually playing catch-up, but that doesn't detract from the records he established. In 14 games, he's Maryland's No. 4 in career passing yardage, and while Florida State quarterback Charlie Ward is going to win the Heisman Trophy, Milanovich was the only one in the ACC to throw for 400 yards in a game.

Milanovich reached that plateau five times, going over it in the last 20 seconds of a 99-yard drive that beat Wake Forest with no time remaining.

"The poise and decision-making he showed were excellent," Duffner said. "Scott had an excellent year. He took some hits against some of the best defenses in the country, and kept coming back."

Milanovich is the marquee name on a young roster that needs immediate defensive help and a kicker to get the Terps above .500, a level Maryland has achieved only once since 1985.

MILANOVICH IN 1993

7+

Category .. .. .. Stat .. .. Of note

Completions . .. .. .. 279 ... .. No. 2 in Maryland history,

... ... .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .... No. 4 in ACC

Attempts . .. .. .. .. 431 ... .. No. 2 in Maryland history,

... ... .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .... No. 5 in ACC

Completion % ... .. . 64.7 . .. . Maryland record

Yards . .. .. .. ... 3,499 . .. . Maryland record,

... ... .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .... No. 2 in ACC

TD passes ... .. .. .. . 26 ... . Maryland and ACC record

Punting avg. ... .. .. 43.8 ... . Maryland record,

... ... .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. . No. 11 in ACC

MARYLAND'S RESULTS

#

Final record: 2-9

.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. Yards

Opponent .. .. .. .. Result . .. .. .. allowed

Virginia .. .. .. .. L, 43-29 .. .. .. 473

at North Carolina .. L, 59-42 .. .. .. 714

West Virginia ... .. L, 42-37 .. .. .. 542

at Virginia Tech ... L, 55-28 .. .. .. 641

Penn State ... .. .. L, 70-7 ... .. .. 659

at Georgia Tech . .. L, 38-0 ... .. .. 610

Duke ... .. .. .. .. W, 26-18 .. .. .. 366

at Clemson ... .. .. L, 29-0 ... .. .. 435

Florida State ... .. L, 49-20 .. .. .. 526

at N.C. State ... .. L, 44-21 .. .. .. 540

at Wake Forest .. .. W, 33-32 .. .. .. 577

Total points scored: 243

Total points allowed: 479 (school and ACC record)

Total yards allowed: 6,083 (NCAA record)

Avg. yards allowed: 553.0 (NCAA record)

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