Despite loss, Johnson has pick of good news

September 11, 1994|By Paul McMullen and Mike Preston | Paul McMullen and Mike Preston,Sun Staff Writers

COLLEGE PARK -- His unit had just given up seven touchdowns for the second straight week in Maryland's 52-20 loss to Florida State, but A. J. Johnson was looking on the bright side.

Johnson, Maryland's left cornerback, preserved the Terps' 20-17 halftime lead over the Seminoles with a goal-line interception, defended against several long passes superbly and did it all with the knowledge that the home folks were watching. He's one of two Maryland starters from Florida, the other being defensive end Al Wallace.

"Florida State brings out the best in everybody," said Johnson, who had six tackles, one for a loss, and broke up four passes. "We looked at this as an opportunity to gain some respect."

Despite a strong first quarter in which it allowed 67 yards, Maryland's defense surrendered 731 yards, Florida State's highest total since it gained 858 against the Terps two years ago. The Seminoles have averaged 705 yards against Maryland in the three games they played since joining the Atlantic Coast Conference in 1992.

Florida State is 18-0 against ACC competition. Maryland holds the record for consecutive wins in the conference, 21, from 1973-77.

Reprieve for Duffner

One week after a large number of fans wanted him fired, Maryland coach Mark Duffner seemed to quiet some of his critics yesterday.

"I think Duffner deserves a chance, but people were not going tsettle for that blowout loss to Duke [49-16] last week," said Steve Hoyle, 29, from Crofton.

Bob Cotton, 29, of Pittsburgh, said: "I'm not sure about him. think he's learning that some of the things that worked in Division I-AA aren't going to work here."

Maryland fans were delighted to see a strong first half by thTerps.

"That was a great first half, but we've still got to improve on thdefense," said Bob Cline, 51, of Germantown. "I believe Coach Duffner will do better as the year progresses."

Until then, though, Duffner will be second-guessed. Several fanquestioned a blitz on a third-and-goal at the 24 midway in the second quarter. A pass completion resulted in a 23-yard gain, and the Seminoles scored on the next play to cut Maryland's lead to 13-10.

Fans also wanted to know why Duffner played backuquarterback Kevin Foley in the second quarter when the Terps took possessions at their 39- and 41-yard lines.

And why is the Terps secondary so poor? And why did the Terps still give up a lot of yards despite a new defensive coordinator?

"On third-and-24, you put in an extra defensive back and keeeverything in front of you to only give away a field goal," said Nathan Beach, 15, of College Park, whose older brother David is a wide receiver for the Terps.

"I like Duffner, and I think he got a raw deal," said Brad Moning29, of Annapolis. "I like his offensive approach, but he has to do something with that defense. He deserves more time with his recruiting."

D8 Duffner is in the third year of a five-year contract.

It looked good on paper

The battle between All-Americans Derrick Alexander, a Florida State defensive end, and the Terps' Steve Ingram, a tackle, never materialized. They lined up opposite each other only six times.

"We had talked some after last year's game, and he was at thPlayboy All-American camp," Ingram said. "We had talked to each other this week by phone, but we never got into the groove against each other."

At the doorstep

Despite two lopsided losses, Ingram said he feels the Terps are close to turning the program around. "We're right at the doorsteps and kicking and kicking," Ingram said. "Instead of playing a half a game, now we've got to put it together for 60 minutes. Our time is coming."

Doing the QB shuffle

Maryland senior center Jamie Bragg said he has no problems with Duffner substituting quarterbacks even at critical situations.

"Using two also puts pressure on the defense," said Bragg"because now they have to prepare for two different styles. I think when you have two great quarterbacks it really doesn't matter."

A bit of catching up

Freshman offensive tackle Pat Ward played on the defensive line for the first time since high school yesterday. "It felt great to play, but everything is so much faster than high school," Ward said. "It took me a while to get used to that kind of speed."

Briefly

Joe O'Donnell's two field-goal performance was the first by a Maryland kicker in two years and surpassed last year's 11-game total, one. . . . Scott Milanovich (17-for-34, 188 yards) became the youngest Terps quarterback to throw for 4,000 career yards, but it was the second-lowest yardage total in the 13 games he's started. . . . Milanovich threw his 30th career touchdown pass to Geroy Simon, who scored for the second straight week. . . . Freshman superback Buddy Rodgers left in the first quarter with a knee sprain. . . . A week after the Terps had no quarterback sacks at Duke, Wallace and blitzing safety Jermaine Stewart got to Danny Kanell. . . . Ninety-seven passes were attempted in the game, which lasted 3 hours, 46 minutes.

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