A day after the most galling defeat of his five seasons at Maryland, coach Mark Duffner's outlook was brightened by a bye on the schedule and the considerably high threshold of pain that is a major part of Brian Cummings' makeup.
Cummings, the Terps' junior quarterback, was knocked out of Saturday's 21-3 loss at Virginia in the first quarter. Duffner said yesterday that Cummings may have suffered a slight separation to his right shoulder, and he did not rule out his return for Maryland's next game, Sept. 28 at West Virginia.
"The team doctor might not get a look at the X-rays until tomorrow [today], but we do know that there was no break," Duffner said. "I don't know when Brian will be able to practice or throw, but I'm not putting anything beyond this guy."
Cummings left last year's opener with what appeared to be a severe ankle injury, but he returned the next week against North Carolina. He led the Terps to a 4-0 start despite that ankle sprain, a broken bone in his right foot and a bruised shoulder.
On Saturday, Cummings began receiving electrical stimulation to his injured shoulder during the second half against Virginia, which moved to No. 20 in the new AP poll.
Cummings was replaced by Ken Mastrole, a redshirt freshman. Virginia (2-0) took immediate advantage of him, scoring its first touchdown on a 10-yard interception return. Mastrole also had two late turnovers that led directly to the Cavaliers' last two touchdowns. Duffner could not fault Mastrole, who came into August camp as the Terps' No. 3 quarterback.
"I imagine Ken couldn't have been thrown in a tougher situation than that," Duffner said. "Virginia traditionally has a great defense, and this year is no different."
The Terps (2-1) wasted a superb effort by their own defense, which limited Virginia to 221 yards. Maryland allowed fewer yards in a win at Wake Forest last year, but considering the caliber of competition, Duffner labeled it as the best defensive game the Terps have played during his tenure.
But it was also the most feeble offense Maryland has shown under Duffner -- the Terps were limited to 168 yards. Cummings probably will sit out practice sessions tomorrow, Wednesday and Friday, so that the offense can get more accustomed to Mastrole, try to eliminate errors like the five procedure penalties it committed and even consider some personnel changes.
"We have to go back to basics in this week off," said Duffner, who was asked if Saturday's loss was his most frustrating at Maryland. "Probably. The fact that we went toe-to-toe with a ranked team, at their place, should tell us something about ourselves. That's why the last two scores really irritated me. People saw the score, and didn't see how close we were to winning."
Pub Date: 9/16/96