Vanderlinden mum on quarterback choice Jones' stock rises after effort Saturday

Maryland notebook

September 22, 1998|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK -- No one should have been surprised yesterday when Maryland coach Ron Vanderlinden refused to divulge who would be his starting quarterback for Saturday's 6 p.m. home date with winless Temple.

Even if Vanderlinden has made a decision between junior drop-back passer Ken Mastrole and freshman option quarterback Randall Jones, he would not tell the opposition until later in the week.

There is no need to give the Owls a lot of time to prepare.

However, Jones did dominate most of Vanderlinden's comments the quarterback situation during a weekly news conference because that's who most of the questions centered around.

He has emerged as the more glamorous of the two players dueling for Maryland's No. 1 quarterback job for several reasons.

Jones not only is young and flashy but he is basically a local product from Thomas Johnson High in Frederick. The 6-foot-2, 207-pounder also has a flair for turning busted plays into long gainers and has the speed necessary to survive in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

In contrast, Mastrole is a big, plodding quarterback with a strong arm who needs a lot of time to throw the ball. The option will never come easy for Mastrole.

Making matters worse for Mastrole is the inconsistent play of a young and thin Maryland offensive line.

Vanderlinden said yesterday of his decision on a starting quarterback for Temple: "We want to think carefully before we make a decision which direction we're going to go and make this thing work. I'm not anxious to make radical changes because we're making progress and the offensive line is young and tender mentally."

Jones came off the bench early in the third quarter against No. 19 West Virginia on Saturday night with Maryland trailing, 35-3, and put 17 points on the board by completing five of seven passes for 70 yards and rushing for 49 yards on 13 carries.

Vanderlinden said, "Randall has earned more practice time with the first team and every consideration to be part of the game plan. I still believe Ken has a lot of good football left in him and I have to give him more time."

It would seem 0-3 Temple would be a perfect opponent to give the inexperienced Jones a chance to start.

That will be one of the factors in Vanderlinden's decision, along with how much damage it would do to Mastrole's confidence.

Kopka keeps kicking

Sophomore Brian Kopka hit two 43-yard field goals against West Virginia, running his consecutive string to seven and moving into a tie for third nationally in field goals made this season (seven) and a fourth-place tie nationally in average field goals per game (2.3).

Kopka missed his first field-goal attempt of the season from 46 yards against James Madison and has not missed since.

Terps need big plays

Maryland has been impressive on third-down conversions of six yards or less (82 percent) and in game-time possession (averaging 33: 53 in three games), but it has failed to make the big plays needed to be successful.

"We need to score on easy plays," said Vanderlinden. "We have to find guys who can make plays."

Pub Date: 9/22/98

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