Brent DeWitz saved a football game for Maryland today. He also created a major headache for Coach Jerry Clairborne.
"I knew you all were going to ask that question," Clairborne said, when someone asked who his quarterback was in light of of DeWitz's brilliant rescue job in the Terrapins' 17-14 win over Duke today. "I'll tell you who my quarterback is next week."
If Clairborne listens to his quarterback coach, Jerry Eisaman, DeWitz will start Saturday against North Carolina State. "I have to talk to Coach Clairborne and we have to look at the film but I'm sure Brent will be the quarterback," Eisaman said in the jubilant locker room. "He did a great job today."
If Clairborne and Eisaman decide on DeWitz (four of seven passes completed for 56 yards plus four carries for 19 yards in the second half) many Terrapins will be shocked. Most shocked will be the senior first-teamer Mike Tice.
Tice came out of the Wake Forrest game with a severe hip pointer a week ago. He was not quite ready today and was held out. That decision looked dubious when Bob Milkovich could not move the team the first half. Then came DeWitz.
The 6-foot, 190-pound third-year sophomore isn't going to overwhelm anyone with his size or speed. "It doesn't matter," DeWitz said. "What counts is what's here." With that he pointed to his heart.
DeWitz has that. He is a prototype Clairborne player, hard-nosed and hardworking. He also has a sense of humor. "I'm not used to being stared at like this," he said as reporters surrounded him today.
Still, Clairborne has a dilemma. Tice has done nothing to deserve benching. He has played well all season, improving each week until his injury. What's more, he is a senior with only three regular-season games left in his college career.
Clairborne makes his judgments on peformance. Today, DeWitz performed. That apparently is why Eisaman will recommend the switch.
The DeWitz-led performance in the second half, helped wipe out memories of a terrible, rain-soaked first half which ended with Duke ahead, 14-0, and Clairborne in a rage.
"I've never seen him like that," said one senior of Clairborne's halftime performance. "He was really angry."
Clairborne told his players they were standing around, they weren't being aggressive and, "you're losing to a team that doesn't even belong on the same field with you."
One Maryland player whose desire or heart never was in question was fullback Rick Fasano. The 5-foot-11 senior's father died of cancer Thursday afternoon. Fasano played almost every snap today and will go home Tuesday for the funeral.