Again, youth must toe line on defense

September 07, 1994|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,Sun Staff Writer

COLLEGE PARK -- Cliff Schwenke hopes that the final domino has fallen.

Schwenke, Maryland's defensive line coach, has endured a chain reaction that for the second straight year has left the Terps inexperienced and thin up front. Maryland tried eight defensive linemen, including three walk-ons and a true freshman, in Saturday's season-opening loss at Duke, when it allowed seven touchdowns and 531 yards.

None of the eight had played a down of college football before 1993, when the Terps' plans for an all-senior line were wiped out by injuries.

Only one of the four seniors lasted all of 1993, and in their absence, Maryland rushed along some freshmen. The football development of Johnnie Hicks, Tim Watson and Jason Brown was accelerated, but it may have cost them in the classroom. All three are academically ineligible, but Hicks and Watson are appealing their status.

A final decision on their appeal should be made by tomorrow, but for the time being, the Terps are without two of their best tackles.

If Hicks and Watson aren't reinstated, Maryland again might turn to some freshmen. Tackles Richard Abrams, out of Arundel High, and North County graduate Latroy Fowlkes, who was recruited as a linebacker, missed some preseason practice with non-football-related illnesses, but Schwenke said they are in the practice plan this week.

The uncertainty has left the Terps coaches with a juggling act.

"We've given Hicks and Watson certain reps in practice," Schwenke said. "We tried to keep them in tune, but not at the expense of the second-teamers. At the same time, you have to plan for not having Hicks and Watson, so you've got to get the third-stringers work.

"We knew a year ago we weren't going to have a senior on the line this season, but this is not what we planned for. We've been jinxed."

Defending national champion Florida State comes to Byrd Stadium on Saturday (12:10 p.m.), and even without three offensive linemen suspended for their involvement in an agent-sponsored shopping spree, the Seminoles figure to have their way against the Terps. Florida State attempted 56 passes and allowed one sack in its 41-17 rout of Virginia.

Foley awaits turn

The Terps' quarterback script at Duke included a first-half possession in which Kevin Foley subbed for Scott Milanovich. Foley didn't do much with his chance, but Florida State will resurrect some happy memories for him.

Foley saw only garbage time in the Terps' first five games last season, but the more banged-up Milanovich became, the more he figured in the game plan. He played one series in each half of the ninth and 10th games, and impressed against Florida State, throwing a 68-yard touchdown pass on the first meaningful possession of his college career, then driving the Terps 77 yards.

A redshirt sophomore from Cherry Hill, N.J., Foley is No. 2 behind Milanovich for the second straight year, and he knows that probably will be the pecking order through next season.

Last winter, Foley discussed his status at length with Maryland coaches and his family -- including older brother Glenn, a rookie third-string quarterback with the New York Jets who started for four years at Boston College -- and resisted the urge to transfer.

"If the worst-case scenario is that I only start for one year, I'll just have to light it up then," Foley said. "It worked for Scott Zolak."

Zolak, who sat behind Neil O'Donnell for two years, started for the Terps in 1990. He's with the New England Patriots.

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