In Terps' switch, it's Foley at QB for Milanovich

September 21, 1994|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,Sun Staff Writer

COLLEGE PARK -- Two days before Maryland played its opener this year, Terps quarterback Kevin Foley wondered out loud what would have happened if he had gone to one of the four Big East Conference teams that recruited him.

Foley figured he would start at West Virginia or Syracuse this season. He knew he could do the job at Miami and at Boston College, where he would have replaced his brother Glenn. Fact is, Foley thought he would start just about anywhere except Maryland. His primary role with the Terps would be as a backup until 1996, when Scott Milanovich would finally be in the NFL.

Forget the status quo. Coach Mark Duffner has. Last weekend at West Virginia, Milanovich turned in another ineffective performance and Foley came in and rallied Maryland to its first September victory since Duffner arrived in 1992, and the redshirt sophomore will get his first start Saturday against Wake Forest at Byrd Stadium.

"Foley has earned the privilege to start this week," Duffner said yesterday. "That's what it's going to be this week. We're looking at both quarterbacks playing and contributing."

Milanovich needed just 12 starts to become the fourth quarterback in Maryland history to throw for 4,000 yards, whereas Foley never had attempted more than 12 passes in a Terps game before last week.

Foley could start the rest of the season, Milanovich could win the job back, or the two could alternate starts. Duffner began to shake up the Terps (1-2) after a 33-point loss in the opener at Duke, and if they have to deal with a quarterback controversy to get to .500 for the first time in four years, so be it.

"Obviously, I'm disappointed," said Milanovich, a redshirt junior whose outspokenness hasn't always endeared him to the Maryland coaches. "I don't have any other way to react to it than to just go out and work hard, and apparently re-prove myself. I haven't lost confidence in myself, and neither have my teammates."

When asked if he agreed with Duffner's decision to demote him, Milanovich said, "No comment."

Milanovich and Foley share living quarters with several other teammates, and both said there is no animosity between them.

"I know it's not his fault, and he knows I'm not bitter," Milanovich said of Foley. "Off the field, nothing's going to hurt our friendship. . . . The last thing we want this to turn into is a controversy."

Duffner would have had to deal with the situation earlier had Foley not injured his shoulder midway through spring practice. He had become the Terps' No. 1 quarterback when Milanovich was suspended for the first two weeks of spring practice after violating university policy. With Foley out, Milanovich returned to the top of the depth chart.

Milanovich nearly started in 1992, but instead backed up John Kaleo.

He threw for a school-record 3,499 yards and 26 touchdowns in 1993, but cooled off in October and November after getting 1,607 yards and 16 touchdowns in the first four games. Interestingly, the season finale at Wake Forest was his finest hour, as he drove the Terps 99 yards into a headwind and threw a touchdown pass on the final play of a 33-32 victory.

This season began differently, however. Milanovich threw for 86 yards in the first half at Duke, when the Terps fell behind 28-3, and he hasn't shown his form from last year, when he had one of the best sophomore seasons ever by a Division I-A passer.

Have opponents caught up to the nuances of the run-and-shoot, which Milanovich favors at a time the Terps are adding other formations? Does Milanovich miss Clyde Christensen, the quarterbacks coach the past two years who left to become offensive coordinator at Clemson? Does he miss Jamie Bragg, the center last year who is now anchoring the defensive line?

After Milanovich and new center Erik Greenstein botched two snaps and lost fumbles at West Virginia, the quarterback asked that Bragg come back in on offense. On Bragg's first snap at center, Milanovich was intercepted, and didn't play quarterback again.

Foley, meanwhile, wasn't surprised when Duffner told him Sunday that he would start against Wake Forest.

"One of the coaches talked to me earlier, that if we ran into troubles offensively, they weren't afraid to give me the call," Foley said.

"They've always respected me, I guess you could say as much as Scotty. Not to say he's been struggling, but the offense hasn't looked as productive as it has in the past."

Foley, who's from Cherry Hill, N.J., came to Maryland in part because he wanted to avoid the shadow cast by his brother Glenn, who rewrote the Boston College record book and is now a rookie with the New York Jets. He instead found himself behind Milanovich, and considered transferring after the 1993 season.

Now, he doesn't mind Milanovich breathing down his neck, itching to regain the starting role.

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