Week works wonders for Jordan in backfield Sophomore's '98 debut puts test on Virginia

Maryland notebook

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

COLLEGE PARK -- Everything changed for the Maryland football team Saturday when sophomore tailback LaMont Jordan came off the bench early in the first quarter and started slicing through the Virginia defensive line.

Jordan turned Maryland into a surprising force that gave the Cavaliers fits all day before they earned a 31-19 victory.

Virginia moved from 12th to 10th in the Associated Press poll this week with the win.

The 5-foot-11, 214-pound Jordan, making his 1998 debut after missing the season opener with strained tendons in his foot, racked up 88 yards rushing on 23 carries and caught three passes for 31 yards. He also had a 29-yard touchdown run called back by a holding penalty.

Jordan exceeded expectations for him on a hot day in Charlottesville, Va., and is drawing rave reviews this week from such people as West Virginia coach Don Nehlen.

"I like everything about Jordan," Nehlen said. "I liked him last year. He's a back. He can run, he can catch, he can elude people and run over people. He's a good back. That's it."

Nehlen and the 19th-ranked Mountaineers will go against Jordan on Saturday night at 6 o'clock in Morgantown, W.Va., in a game that will be televised on ESPN2.

For Jordan, things turned around in one week.

Last week, Maryland coach Ron Vanderlinden said in response to speculation that Jordan missed the opener because he didn't practice well: "The last thing I want to do is bring him back too early and have a season-long injury. I'm not down on LaMont. But at the same time, the ship is moving forward. He's got to catch up to speed."

Vanderlinden said of Jordan's performance against Virginia: "He had some good holes and he had some plays he made himself. You can't approximate the type of taxing conditions he faced in the 94-degree heat when he touched the ball 26 times in his first game.

"I thought he ran with authority and utilized the three things I look for speed, finishing runs physically and showing some avoid."

Zereoue speaks

West Virginia's Heisman Trophy candidate, junior tailback Amos Zereoue, is miffed that some members of the media and fans are already down on the Mountaineers and counting him out of the Heisman race after a season-opening 34-17 loss to Ohio State in which he gained just 77 yards on 20 carries.

"A lot of people are walking around here like the season is over for me and the team," said Zereoue. "It's not. It's only one game. We have a chance to come back and gain some confidence."

Pub Date: 9/15/98

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