Terps QB's quick count: 7 wins Junior Milanovich targets big gain for 2-9 team

August 14, 1994|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,Sun Staff Writer

COLLEGE PARK -- Maryland football players have high expectations for the 1994 season, but perhaps no one's are higher than junior quarterback Scott Milanovich's.

"I think that everyone feels like if we don't have seven wins, it'll be a disappointing season and pretty much a failure," Milanovich said Friday at preseason camp. "And we expect to win games."

The Terps won two of 11 games last year, but Milanovich is quick to point out the differences between this season's squad and last year's.

"[This is] unquestionably the best team," he said. "Not even close. [Last season] we thought that if we played well, we could have a chance to be in the ballgame. We have some pretty good players on this team now, and I think that if we play well [this year], we're going to win those games."

Last season, Maryland ranked third in the nation in passing offense with 347.5 yards a game. Milanovich set school records in passing yardage (3,499), touchdown passes (26) and completion percentage (.647; 279 of 431).

But Milanovich says personal achievements hardly compare with team goals.

"To be honest with you, I don't think it's going to cross my mind," he said.

"My major concern is to get the victories.... I'm confident enough after last year to know that if I keep my head and make the good decisions, the yards, the stats -- all that stuff is going to come."

Quarterbacks coach Rob Spence said: "He knew that his most important job is to be efficient when he has the ball in his hands. With all of the numbers, the one thing Scott Milanovich wants to do is win games. That's the one statistic I think he'd say is the most important."

And Milanovich won't place any blame for last year's dismal showing on his defensive teammates, who gave up 553 yards per game -- the worst in Division 1-A history.

"The main area where we need to improve is to take care of the ball better," he said.

"I threw too many interceptions, we had too many fumbles. For us to be a really effective offense that I think we can be, we have to hold on to the ball better, and we have to run the ball better."

Still, it is rumored that coach Mark Duffner and his offensive coaches will try to take some of the throwing pressure off Milanovich by using two running backs.

Duffner, who good-naturedly called the rumor "conjecture," has said he will not divulge his plans until the season opener, on Sept. 3 at Duke.

Milanovich says he thinks he can adjust to any offensive system.

"[The coaches] just-want to be able to give the [opposing] defense different things to look at and different things to look over. Also, going to the two-back [set] helps our defense. They'll see [a similar attack] at North Carolina State, and they'll be prepared for that."

Another improvement will likely come from the field-goal kicking unit, which converted just one of six tries last season.

"I think it [would have] a tremendous impact on our team," Milanovich said.

"I don't know how many times we drove down inside the 10-yard line and we couldn't get the field goal. Not only does that demoralize the offense, but it also demoralizes the defense. They have to go out there, and they're expecting points. And when you don't come up with it, it hurts the entire team. Our kicker has to come through this year."

Milanovich warned opponents not to take Maryland lightly.

"I think we're going to gain a little more respect this year," he said. "Ithink people realize we have some young talent and that last year was just a matter of us being a little bit green on both sides of the ball. I think they're aware we can make a run this year."

Milanovich's predictions will get their first test against the Blue Devils, whom the Terps defeated, 26-18, last year.

"Playing them first, I think it's imperative that we win," Milanovich said.

"We beat them last year, and we had an opportunity to beat them soundly. If we hadn't turned the ball over late in the game ... I don't think it would have been as close as it was.... If we don't win [this] game, it's going to be a long season."

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