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 Coach Ron Vanderlinden said Wednesday he envisions "co-starters" at quarterback.

Calvin McCall and Randall Jones are even for the starting QB position.

U-Md. Athletics Section

  Vanderlinden: Terps Must Throw More Effectively

 Ron Vanderlinden (File Photo)
Ron Vanderlinden, Maryland's football coach, was on Sports Online on Thursday to discuss the upcoming season and his expectations for the Terrapins.

Vanderlinden took over as Maryland's coach in December 1996 after five seasons as the top assistant for the Northwestern Wildcats. Thanks to Coach Vanderlinden for joining us today. We've got a bunch of questions so let's get started.

Hughesville, Md.:
How much emphasis will you place on offensive line recruitment now that your team has decent talent at the running back and quarterback position? Isn't the line the key to a good offense?

Ron Vanderlinden: I've had a couple of questions regarding our offensive line. First, we have had a couple of uncharacteristic injuries to our offensive line that have thinned us out. I do expect our line to fulfill their roles in helping our team move the ball effectively the first half of the season, and continue to improve as the season goes along. Losing Brett Trammell only hurts us on the scout team. He was not talented or physical enough to be more than a scout team player, which is why he didn't return. Where we need to make the most improvement is with our skilled athletes, making impact plays and space.

Chester, Pa.: What is your plan for the long-term turn around of the Maryland football program, and is the team on track?

Ron Vanderlinden: To continue to recruit effectively. Also, to continue to mold a disciplined, hard-nosed team that has big-play capability on both sides of the ball.

College Park, Md.: I've been wondering, what is the status of Lewis Sanders? Will he be the kick returner this year? Also what postion will he play, CB or FS?

Ron Vanderlinden: Lewis is currently starting at corner, and will be deep as the kickoff returner.

Silver Spring, Md.:
The Terapins have a rich tradition of producing some top notch quarterbacks for the NFL. In recent years that has not happened. Is that part of your vision for the Terapins. If so, how are we doing in that direction. If not, why not?

Ron Vanderlinden: During our first two years, I had to play the quarterbacks currently on the squad, who I obviously did not recruit. I was forced to play Randall Jones last fall who was recruited as a safety because of a lack of talent on the squad at quarterback. You will like the talent we're currently developing at the quarterback position. They are young and need to mature and develop. Be a little patient, it takes time to turn a program around.

Largo, Md.: You have done a good job of building hope in the program. How good is Latrez Harrison will he play this year?

Ron Vanderlinden: Latrez is very talented. We need to show a little patience as he develops.

Downingtown, Pa.: Can you give us your thoughts on your first opponent, Temple?

Ron Vanderlinden: Temple concerns me for a number of reasons. They have talented players. Their coaching staff is doing a good job of bringing them together as a team. They played very hard late in the year which is a tribute to their staff. Beating the No. 11 (Virginia Tech) teamin the country was a tremendous accomplishment. We have also heard that they have switched both their offense and their defensive systems.

Falls Church, Va.: Have your QBs gotten control of the option pitch to the tailback? I realize that the pitch on the option is a rhythm and timing maneuver and can be difficult to master. I'm just hoping to not have to close my eyes and pray this season when I see the QB look to make the pitch.

Ron Vanderlinden: You are right! At times I closed my eyes as well. We are working hard on that part of our game on a daily basis. Hopefully we will both see improvement this fall. The option is important because it limits the blitz package we see.

Richmond: With the loss of some key defensive players to the NFL, how will the defense rank this year? What player(s) do you think will have a significant impact?

Ron Vanderlinden: Kris Jenkins, Delbert Cowsette and Pete Timmins have played very well during fall camp. As soon as we get Tony Okanlawon back, our secondary also has the potential to be very good. Marlon Moore and Aaron Thompson are both going to be good ACC linebackers. We are still looking for the third linebacker. This defense will be very aggressive and run well to the ball.

Colesville, Md.: Maryland has had some great receiving tight ends in the past, but there hasn't been much production from that position recently. Will that position continue to focus on blocking for the running game or can we expect to see the tight ends more involved in the passing game in the future?

Ron Vanderlinden: John Waerig has NFL talent as a blocking tight end. He is probably the best blocking tight end in the ACC. Eric James has become a good blocker and catches the ball very well. Look for improvement at that position. Remember, before I arrived, Maryland did not have a tight end, having been a run-and-shoot program.

Great Neck, NY: Will you be looking to upgrade the out-of-conference schedule in the next few years.

Ron Vanderlinden: The first thing we need to do is have a couple of winning seasons to help improve recruiting and confidence. Look at how Kansas State revitalized its program. Look at Nebraska's non-conference schedule the last 15 years.

New Carrollton, Md: How would you compare your support at Maryland to Northwestern? The AD, alumni, student body? Others?

Ron Vanderlinden: It is similar at this stage of the program.

Irvine, Calif.: Coach, keep up the hard work, even though your record did not completely reflect it, it was clear that your team made significant improvement from year one to year two, the team was much more competitive. My question is, having been in the league for two years, have you changed your offensive approach at all- i.e. - passing plays to rushing plays ratio, etc.- based on what you have experienced in the league.

Ron Vanderlinden: Thank you for your support. We have improved a great deal from 1997 to 1998. We are working hard on becoming a more balanced offense. We MUST throw the ball more effectively. With young quarterbacks, the ability to run the ball takes some pressure off of them as they mature.

columbia, Md.: From most reports, it sounds as if you might be using a two quaterback mix at least early in the season. Is it your intention to continue with the mix to keep opponents offguard or are you leaning toward a traditional 1st and 2nd string scenario?

Ron Vanderlinden: Yes, and yes.

Laurel, Md.: Coach, will you elaborate on the "co-starter" roles you envision for the QB's? This isn't going to be like last year where we had a QB to throw and a QB to run, is it?

Ron Vanderlinden: I hope not.

Arlington, Va.: I have noticed that the Terps overall "team speed" has improved greatly ... is this an area that was concentrated on during your recruitment efforts?

Ron Vanderlinden: Speed and size have been the main emphasis in our recruiting. I also felt as if we needed to find players that loved playing football and were very competitive. I was also more interested in production than potential. We also needed to upgrade the caliber of student in our program, and recruit young men who really wanted to earn a degree. I appreciate your support as we pull this thing together.

Nutley, NJ: How are you planning on dealing with the continuity problem of having two QBs playing when so much of offense is being comfortable and familiar with the other players on your side, and you will be switching two QBs in and out?

Ron Vanderlinden: A year ago, we had a fourth-year quarterback with limited mobility and a true freshman with limited experience. This year, we have three quarterbacks similar in style. Two of the quarterbacks have been in our system for one season and one spring. Our players are comfortable with both quarterbacks. I do not anticipate any type of continuity problem.

Royersford, Pa.: Are you satisfied with the number of players you've been able to recruit from the Metro D.C. and Baltimore areas? It seems we're still losing top players to schools like Penn St. and North Carlina, among others.

Ron Vanderlinden: So often we focus on the ones that get away. We have worked our local area very hard and are very thorough. Winning will help us even do a better job keeping the local players at Maryland. Recruiting locally has gone well, I agree that we can improve upon it and intend to do so.

Blacksburg, Va.: As an alumnus of Centreville, HS in Northern VA, I was wondering if you could give some progress on the development of redshirt freshman Bob Krantz and also on WR Jason Hatala. What role do you seem them having in this years team, and in the future.

Ron Vanderlinden: Jason will play a huge role in this year's offense. Bob, as with most young linemen, needs to continue to develop. He has a great deal of potential.

Tacoma Park, Md.: Coach did you kick Moises Cruz off the team or did he really voluntarily quit?

Ron Vanderlinden: Moises left voluntarily. I would take him back.

Largo, Md.: The offense looked good in the spring game, very diverisified, -i.e., play-action off the option, passing game to the backs & TE. Any new wrinkles for the season?

Ron Vanderlinden: A few. I think you'll find our offense evolving in the next two years into a very challenging offense to defend against.

College Park, Md.: Is Lamont Jordan definitely the No. 1 tailback?

Ron Vanderlinden: Yes. Thanks, Coach for taking time to answer so many questions. We'll let you get back to practice.

© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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