Tar Heels know Terps' pain No. 6 UNC pays a call

Navy hits road to SMU

September 20, 1997|By Paul McMullen and Alan Goldstein | Paul McMullen and Alan Goldstein,SUN STAFF

Mack Brown knows transitions.

Brown is in charge of the North Carolina football team that comes to Byrd Stadium today with a No. 6 ranking and aspirations for a national championship. It's his 10th season with the Tar Heels, and a long way from his first two, 1-10 crushers in which North Carolina had one win in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Does Brown have any advice for Maryland and Ron Vanderlinden, whose first season with the Terps has consisted of an unexpected loss to Ohio and an expected blowout at No. 5 Florida State?

"Before I came to North Carolina, I had a transition at Tulane that wasn't very good either," Brown said. "The longer you go through these situations, the more you learn. After what he went through at Colorado and Northwestern, he's not going to panic."

Another team making a transition to a new coach is Southern Methodist. Mike Cavan and the Mustangs will play host to Navy tonight at the Cotton Bowl in the other game involving a state Division I football team.

Brown thinks that Maryland is in better shape than it was when Mark Duffner began his ill-fated rebuilding job in 1992, but Vanderlinden nonetheless has found some gaping holes in his depth chart.

To contrast best where Maryland and North Carolina are on college football's food chain, check the perimeter when the Terps have the ball. Maryland starts a first-year freshman, Doug Patterson, at flanker. The Tar Heels have a sophomore JTC cornerback, Dre Bly, who was talented enough to be a first-team All-America pick a year after he was redshirted.

The current hype surrounding North Carolina has centered on the quarterback choice between senior Chris Keldorf and junior Oscar Davenport.

Both have won big games for the Tar Heels and both will play against the Terps, but the strength of North Carolina is its defense, which returns nine starters from the unit that last year ranked No. 1 in the nation in scoring defense and No. 2 in yards allowed.

"If you're worrying about playing us," Brown said, "you should worry about our defense more than our offense."

The game begins a stretch in which Maryland will play five of seven games at Byrd Stadium, with Temple and Wake Forest being the road games. The Terps play the Owls in Philadelphia next week, then get Duke, which has lost 15 straight; West Virginia, a team they have beaten two of the last three years, and Wake, which they pounded 52-0 last year.

"When this game is over," Vanderlinden said, "hopefully the road will smooth over."


Cavan, SMU's new coach, was asked if he bothered to watch tapes of the Mustangs' 1995 game with Navy when Chris McCoy made his varsity debut for the Midshipmen by rushing for 273 yards and passing for 125 in a 33-2 romp at the Cotton Bowl.

"No, I haven't watched it," said Cavan. "Why would I want to give myself nightmares?"

Last year in Annapolis, the game was far more competitive, with Navy winning on a last-second field goal, 19-17, after SMU had rallied from a 16-0 deficit.

McCoy still managed to rush for 140 yards, but was offset by SMU quarterback Ramon Flanigan, who passed for 232 yards and two touchdowns.

Flanigan, in his sixth season at SMU because of injuries, had a career-best 148 yards rushing last week when the Mustangs routed Arkansas, 31-9. But Cavan has given almost equal time to freshman Chris Sanders, who has completed 61 percent (11 of 18) of his passes.

Cavan has stressed a running game with senior Donte Womack as his principal runner in the I-formation. Womack has rushed for 306 yards in two games.

"Womack has quick feet and breaks tackles," Navy coach

Charlie Weatherbie said. "Plus, he's got an excellent blocker in [fullback] Jim Pennington. We tried to recruit him ourselves."

Pub Date: 9/20/97

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