Oh, to become Florida State North Vanderlinden ponders gap between Terps, opponent

Maryland notebook

September 29, 1998|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK -- It's four days until Maryland again tests its football program against ACC model Florida State, and coach Ron Vanderlinden allowed himself to dream a little yesterday.

"There's no reason we can't reclaim this ACC," he said. "We've got a lot going for us. We're in a great location here. If we want to create something special here, let's do it. Why can't we be Florida State? We can. But we've got to adopt an attitude that way first. What comes first?"

Vanderlinden then looked across Byrd Stadium and said: "I see such a beautiful stadium and I think our fans are very into it. I see such great potential for Byrd Stadium.

"I think we're going to create a really unique college football environment in the next few years. I really do see this thing all fitting together. I think the crowds are going to increase as our performance improves."

The second-year coach was suddenly shocked back into reality when he was asked about the mental state of the Terps last season when Florida State crushed Maryland, 50-7, in Tallahassee.

"We had guys asking to come off the field that day," said Vanderlinden. "It was as ugly as ugly could get. We had just faced Ohio U. and the wishbone the week before, and we went from the wishbone to no-huddle, four wide receivers, throwing on every down and 100-degree temperatures. We were playing a scared defense, 20 yards off the ball."

Vanderlinden insists Maryland (2-2) is light years ahead of where it was last year when it took the field against the Seminoles, who were on their way to an NCAA record of 11 straight top-four finishes in the Associated Press poll.

But not even Vanderlinden wanted to guess how much closer that put his team to No. 9 Florida State (3-1) for Saturday's 1 p.m. game at Byrd Stadium.

Even though the Seminoles were stunned by N.C. State, 24-7, three weeks ago, they have a 48-2 record in the ACC since beginning conference play in 1992. The other ACC loss was to Virginia, 33-28, in 1995. Both setbacks were on the road.

Thomas returns to Terps

Sophomore center Ben Thomas rejoined the team this week for the first time since the middle of last spring practice. He

missed all preseason workouts and four games due to concerns over a heart condition.

The 6-foot-2, 271-pound player from Moosic, Pa., was given clearance to play by doctors before preseason drills but opted not to return until he and his family were certain he was totally healthy. Vanderlinden said there is no timetable for Thomas' return to game action.

Pub Date: 9/29/98

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