Benching matured Milanovich A HUMBLING EXPERIENCE

November 04, 1994|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,Sun Staff Writer

College Park -- Scott Milanovich has reason to be a cocky

quarterback.

He's a year removed from one of the best statistical seasons by a sophomore in Division I-A. It has been five weeks since his last interception, and if Maryland can beat North Carolina State at Byrd Stadium tomorrow night, Milanovich will be the first Terps quarterback to win three games in a row since 1986.

Milanovich, however, is maintaining a level head. It's an understandable approach for someone who went from Preseason Player of the Year in the Atlantic Coast Conference to No. 2 on his own depth chart in a little more than three weeks.

"Everyone's talking about how good things are going," Milanovich said, "but I have a pretty good memory, and I'm not ever going to forget what happened. It's like having a relative in a car accident. You never think it's going to happen to you. I don't know if invincible is the right word, but I didn't feel like something like that could ever happen to me.

"It's definitely going to keep my ego in check. It's something that really humbled me."

There wasn't one reason Milanovich -- a junior whose size (6 feet 4, 220 pounds) and arm and instincts cause personnel directors to predict there's a place for him in the NFL -- was benched in the third game of the season, at West Virginia.

Milanovich didn't like the Terps' experimentation with alignments other than the run-and-shoot. He probably strayed too often from the pocket in a season-opening loss at Duke. Jamie Bragg, his center all of last year, was shifted to defensive tackle, and Milanovich lost two snaps from Bragg's replacement in the West Virginia game.

Even if it was easy to explain, it wasn't easy to accept.

"I didn't agree with what happened," Milanovich said. "It helped that I was lucky enough to have good parents and good friends who supported me."

Had Milanovich said the word, his parents would have driven down from Butler, Pa., and taken him to dinner.

Any tendency toward self-pity was assuaged during talks with teammates John Teter, Russ Weaver and Kevin Plank. Teter was injured in the spring and hasn't been able to regain his starting position on the offensive line. Weaver led the ACC in catches last year, but the offense's troubles left him with 13 catches after five games. Plank is a walk-on who only this year won a scholarship.

"You start to feel sorry for yourself, then you look around and see that you're not the only one that things haven't always gone great for," Milanovich said.

He read about John Sacca, who transferred from Penn State to Division I-AA Eastern Kentucky after losing his quarterback job to Kerry Collins. But Milanovich gave no thought to running away to a smaller program for 1995, his final season of NCAA eligibility.

He had too much invested at Maryland, and instead went about winning back the starter's job from sophomore Kevin Foley, who rallied the Terps to victory at West Virginia. In Maryland's next tTC two games, Foley started but played only slightly more than Milanovich. The rotation wasn't a factor against Wake Forest, but the offense sputtered under both in a shutout loss at Clemson.

Head coach Mark Duffner realized he had to pick one or the other to lead Maryland. Three weeks ago today, Milanovich and Foley awoke unsure as to who it would be. Twenty-four hours before the Terps played North Carolina, Duffner cited Milanovich's experience and made him the starter again.

"I guess he was probably frustrated," Duffner said, "but I only observed him making the most of every day."

In a loss at North Carolina and in wins the past two weeks over Georgia Tech and Tulane, the offense has been a model of efficiency. Under Milanovich, it has returned exclusively to the one-back, four-wide-receiver set he prefers. Maryland coaches and players say that Milanovich isn't doing anything differently, but that the entire unit has a clearer sense of purpose.

North Carolina State coach Mike O'Cain agrees, up to a point.

"I don't know if [Milanovich] ever lost his confidence," O'Cain said, "but he's playing better than he did earlier in the year, when it looked like he didn't know where to go with the ball. His offensive line wasn't giving him a lot of help. It's hard to be the best you can be when you alternate, because the job has to be yours."

Only once this season has Milanovich reached 300 yards. Last year he threw for 400 or more five times. His assault on Boomer Esiason's school records has slowed, but he has attempted 111 passes without an interception. Maryland (4-4) and Milanovich are passing less, but winning more.

"I'm just going to do my job, play my hardest," Milanovich said. "Hopefully, that's going to be enough."

RECORD CHASE

Despite starting just 17 games for Maryland, redshirt junior Scott Milanovich is closing in on several career passing records set by Boomer Esiason from 1981 to 1983. Milanovich has the best career completion percentage in Terps history, 64.6.

Stat .. .. .. ..Esiason .. .. .. .. ..Milanovich

Attempts .. .. ...850 .. .. .. .. .. .. ..653

Comp. .. .. .. ...461 .. .. .. .. .. .. ..422

Yards .. .. .. .6,259 .. .. .. .. .. ...5,120

TDs .. .. .. .. ...42 .. .. .. .. .. .. ...38

BACK ON TARGET

Maryland quarterback Scott Milanovich, who temporarily lost his starting job to Kevin Foley, has turned his season around in the past three games

Opponent.. .. ..Comp. .. ..Att. .. ..Yds. .. ..TDs .. ...Int

Duke .. .. .. .. 20 .. .. ..31 .. ...230 .. .. .1 .. .. ...0

Florida State ...17 .. .. ..34 .. ...188 .. .. .2 .. .. ...1

West Virginia ....1 .. .. ...2 .. .. .17 .. .. .0 .. .. ...1

Wake Forest .. ..10 .. .. ..12 .. ...121 .. .. .1 .. .. ...1

Clemson .. .. .. .9 .. .. ..14 .. .. .71 .. .. .0 .. .. ...1

North Carolina ..22 .. .. ..33 .. ...169 .. .. .0 .. .. ...0

Georgia Tech .. .22 .. .. ..31 .. ...302 .. .. .4 .. .. ...0

Tulane ... .. ...25 .. .. ..35 .. ...291 .. .. .3 .. .. ...0

Totals .. .. ...126 .. .. .192 .. ..1389 .. ...11 .. .. ...4

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.