Terps stay positive despite the negatives Youth, injuries still hurt

UM picked last in ACC

August 15, 1998|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK -- Ron Vanderlinden ended a Maryland football media day session yesterday by scoffing at a suggestion that he start one of his freshmen quarterbacks as part of a rebuilding season.

"I'm not conceding anything," he said. "I'm going to play the best players. I'm going to do my [best] to win every game this year. I realize where we're at in terms of mental attitude and the problems we have to overcome.

"But I'll be doggoned if I'm going to write off the season. I would never do that to the players or our seniors. This team has worked hard. We're going to go out and do everything in our power to take victory every week."

Junior Ken Mastrole is expected to open the season as the starting quarterback.

But Vanderlinden said he would not officially choose a starter until later in fall practice, because "I don't want to take away the motivation and hopes and dreams of the other three guys."

Junior Trey Evans is the backup quarterback, and redshirt freshmen Gil Harris and Erik Lipton will duel for the No. 3 spot at quarterback. Lipton is a product of Arundel High.

So just where is the 1998 Maryland football team headed? The Terps, picked by nearly everybody to finish last in the Atlantic Coast Conference, are coming off a 2-9 season. They were hurt by numerous off-season injuries, have no depth, and are young in a lot of positions.

There was also a touch of controversy during the off-season involving senior linebacker Eric Barton, who might be the team's best player.

Barton, a preseason, second-team All-America selection in some publications, was indicted on assault charges after an altercation following a campus concert May 1, but the Prince George's County state's attorney's office dropped the charges last week.

"There's a great relief it's behind me," Barton said yesterday. "I'm looking forward to my senior year. It was a great relief to have my parents and friends help get me through it."

Although he would make no predictions for this season, Barton did go against the norm and dare to mention he was dreaming of a 6-5 year.

"Coach Vanderlinden has been 100 percent behind me all along in everything," Barton said. "And I'd love to be part of his first winning season here. A 6-5 record would be great."

No one else, even Vanderlinden, wanted to discuss wins and losses.

"I like our new slimmed-down offensive line, and we're much better at tight end and fullback than last year," said Vanderlinden, in his second season with the Terps. "We're going to be more physical up front and run the football. We're going to throw off play-action to slow up the defenses.

"Last year, we were real bad in the secondary and had no one one to turn to. Now we have some answers on defense. But who knows how it's all going to play out in the season?"

Starting senior offensive tackle John Feugill said the Terps would be a much closer-knit team this season than last year.

"We wore the same uniforms last year, but we were not all on the same team at times," Feugill said. "There was some finger pointing. We have much better chemistry, because the coach has gotten us involved in things like team softball games."

UM schedule

Date .. .. ..Opponent .. .. .. ..Time

Sept. 5 .. ..James Madison .. .. .. 6

Sept. 12 .. .at Virginia .. .. .. .12

Sept. 19 .. .at West Virginia .. .. 6

Sept. 26 .. .Temple .. .. .. .. ... 6

Oct. 3 .. ...Florida State .. .. .tba

Oct. 10 .. ..at Clemson .. .. .. .tba

Oct. 17 .. ..Wake Forest .. .. .. tba

Oct. 31 .. ..Georgia Tech* .. .. .tba

Nov. 7 .. .. at N.C. .. .. .. .. .tba

Nov. 14 .. ..at Duke .. .. .. .. .tba

Nov. 21 .. ..N.C. State .. .. .. .tba

* at Ravens stadium

For tickets: 301-314-7070 or 800-IMA-TERP

Pub Date: 8/15/98

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.