After sputtering to a 21-14 victory at Clemson last weekend, the University of Maryland may face a more severe test in its home opener at 1.30 p.m. today against a vastly improved West Virginia team.
Other area treams in action this afternoon include Navy (1-0)hosting weak Connecticut, Howard (0-1) at home against Maryland-Eastern Shore, Bowie State (1-0) hosting Frostburg State, Virginia (0-1) at Texas, Morgan State at Yankee Stadium against Grambling and Virginia Tech opening at home against Texas A & M.
THe University of the District of Columbia plays its first football game ever, at Scranton at 8 tonight.
Maryland's man to watch will be Larry Dick, making his first at quarterback since the 1975 season. Regular starter Mark Manges will be available, but is resting the swollen left foot that chased him from last week's game in the third quarter.
Dick came off the bench and passed for two touchdowns in the come-from behind win.
The 10th-ranked Terps' home was declared a sellout yesterday, but a decision will be made before the game whether more general admission tickets will be made available to make up for no-shows.
The Mountaineers, who will also see keener competition than in their 36-0 victory over Richmond, feature a wide-open offense with interchangeable running backs and a defense not nearly as shaky as had been forecast in the preseason.
A victory for the Terps would be an important confidence-builder for preparing next week for their game of the year against Penn State Sept. 24.
But the Mountaineers are troublesome enough to make "looking ahead" impractical.
WVU quarterback Dan Kendra passed for two touchdowns and ran for one against Richmond, as the Mountaineers rolled up 406 yards total offense to Richmond's 190.
Kendra completed five of eight passes for 149 yards, including an 80-yard touchdown pass to Cedric Thomas.
The rushing attack is paced by highly recruited freshman Robert (The Great) Alexander, who came off the bench and carried 11 times for 71 yards. Starting ahead of The Great is The Duck, Dave Riley, who carried 12 times for 54 yards. At fullback, WVU has Walter Easley and Paul Lumley, who combined for 110 yards rushing and two touchdowns last Saturday.
"Iwould like to get to the point where we play two backs most of the game," said coach Frank Cignetti. "We can't do that yet, but that situation will work itself out as we play more games and we can evaluate the runners."
Cignetti has no trouble evaluating Maryland, which beat WVU last year, 24-3.
"When we played Maryland last year, they were more comparable to (national champion) Pitt," said Cignetti. "Maryland is even stronger than they were last season. They have become more dominating on defensee and they have the skilled personal to both run and throw the ball well.
"We're a better team than we were when we played Maryland last year. How much better and how far have we come is still the question."
Maryland will play the first game on Byrd Stadium's lish new Bermuda turf, which will aid the quickness of both teams.
Navy takes on a Connecticut team that lost its opener to Lehigh, 49-0. A spokesman in the Connecticut athletic office, asked what the major problem was, replied, "I guess the lack of quality."
Connecticut, 2-9 last year, has a new head coach in Walt Nadzak, who compiled a 45.26.3 record at Juanita College in Pennsylvania.
Navy is coming off a 21-2 victory over The Citadel and will try to win its fifth straight (spanning two seasons) for the first time since 1963.
Senior safety Mike Galpin also has a streak - five straight games with an interception.
Like Maryland, Navy uses this one as a tuneup for a biggie next week - at Michigan.
The Howard Bison and the UMES Hawks go for their first wins of the season in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference opener for both teams.
Howard lost to Florida A&M, 28-6, while the Hawks dropped a 13-12 decision to Towson State. Howard has won the last four games between the clubs.