Terps drop finale, 48-10 Florida State rolls

Duffner awaits fate

November 24, 1996|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

MIAMI -- If yesterday's 48-10 loss to Florida State was his last game as Maryland's football coach, Mark Duffner left on the high road.

It was the Terps' turn to host this Atlantic Coast Conference mismatch, but it was sold last year by athletic director Debbie Yow to a promoter for $1 million. After an early 7-0 lead was drowned out by the Seminoles' talent and a crowd of 31,989 doing the Tomahawk Chop at Pro Player Stadium, Duffner refused to criticize the move.

"That's old stuff," Duffner said. "We knew over a year ago we would be coming down here."

The news that Duffner, his staff and players are waiting for is whether he will be back for a sixth year, a prospect that has appeared slim since Thursday, when news surfaced that a

representative of the university had interviewed a possible replacement.

Duffner declined to discuss his future yesterday, and Yow was not available for comment. A Maryland spokesman said that neither would talk to the media today. The two will meet early this week to decide the status of Duffner's contract, which is guaranteed through next season.

What did Duffner tell his players after the 3-hour, 41-minute marathon?

"He explained to everyone that his situation is in limbo," said senior Al Wallace, a defensive end who is one of the four captains. "We're behind him. We know how hard it is for coaches and their families to be in that situation."

The outcome left Maryland (5-6, 3-5) with its fourth losing record in Duffner's five seasons, and it is the sixth straight year that the Terps did not get to a bowl, the longest such drought in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Duffner's record is 20-35, no improvement over the man he replaced, Joe Krivak, who was 20-34-2 from 1987 to '91. Duffner is the first Maryland coach in more than three decades to last as long as five seasons and not get the Terps to a postseason game. Yesterday's loss to the No. 3 Seminoles (10-0, 8-0) left him 0-18 against ranked teams.

"They didn't quit," Duffner said. "We were 2-4, but we battled back to win three of our last five games. I'm disappointed that we didn't win more, but we also couldn't predict that Buddy Rodgers [his best running back] and Brian Cummings would be out as long as they would be."

Cummings, the junior quarterback, led the Terps to a touchdown on the game's first possession, and the Seminoles, who had a season-high eight sacks, made him pay the rest of the way. For his own safety, he was pulled with eight minutes left.

"I was in there fighting," said Cummings, who strained a ligament in his right thumb and whose left hand was swollen with bruises. "Whether it was me or Paul Bunyan, nothing was getting accomplished."

Seminoles coach Bobby Bowden agreed with Duffner, that the season would have gone differently had Cummings not suffered a separated shoulder in the ACC opener at Virginia. He missed two starts, and most of two other games.

"If he hadn't gotten hurt, they would have won two, three more games," Bowden said of Maryland. "I hope it's not his [Duffner's] last game. To me, the important thing is the direction you're headed. They're a lot better now than the first year we played them. I hope he makes it."

The early 7-0 deficit had Bowden thinking of next Saturday's showdown in Tallahassee against No. 1 Florida.

"I was concerned, because [Maryland] did it so easy," Bowden said. "I was thinking about those guys [Florida], how are we going to stop that team, when we couldn't even slow this one down."

The emotional high the Terps had in their 13-10 win over Georgia Tech carried over, through nine days and reports that Maryland had interviewed Notre Dame defensive coordinator Bob Davie, who is expected to be named coach of the Fighting Irish today.

Coming off the best game of his college career, Cummings carved up the Seminoles after the opening kickoff. He overthrew wide-open Geroy Simon on second down, but two completions to the senior set up a 30-yard touchdown catch and run by

redshirt freshman Troy Davidson.

It was the third time in four games that a Seminoles opponent scored on its first possession, but Florida State shrugged it off. Quarterbacks Thad Busby and Dan Kendra combined for 496 yards, and the defense limited the Terps to 121 yards over the last 57 minutes.

Maryland was down 21-10 and the outcome was still in doubt when the Seminoles were the beneficiaries of what appeared to be a blown call by the officials. The replay showed that Walt Williams had beaten return man Peter Warrick to a bobbled punt, but the officials ruled the play dead and Florida State took possession on its 9.

Would it have mattered?

"We believed all week long we could win," said Duffner. "Our coaches and players worked very hard on being focused. They deserve a lot of credit."

Duffner's Terps

Mark Duffner has had one winning season and no bowl trips in five seasons at Maryland:

Year ... ... ... ... ... Overall ... ... ... ... ... ACC

1992 ... ... ... ... ... 3-8 ... ... ... ... ... ... 2-6

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