It will be a long time before Wake Forest University football coach Chuck Mills forgets the 1976 season. Had not it been for disappointing losses to Maryland (17-15) and Atlantic Coast Conference cellar-dweller Virginia (18-17) the Deacons (5-6) would have handed Wills his first winning season since he took over in '73. The school would also have posted its best won-lost mark in 26 years.
The Deacons (1-4) have even less to cheer about this year but a victory over Maryland Saturday at Groves Stadium at 1:30 could be tremendous morale booster.
Needless to say, Victory won't be easy. The Terrapins (1-1 in the ACC and 2-3 overall) are coming off a 24-10 triumph over Syacuse and showed signs of snapping out of a case of the early seasons blahs.
"We catch Maryland after a win after they lost three straight," said Mills. "They may be a little bit nasty."
Maryland's defense may have to be just that to stop the ACC's leading rushers, James McDougald, and pass combination of quaterback Mike McGlamry and tight end Steve Young, a former Gaithersburg High star.
McDougald, shooting for his second 1,000-yard season, is already being touted as the finest running back in Wake Forest history. The speedy sophomore has rushed for more than 100 yards in four of the Deacons' games and is averging 113 yards per contest.
What makes McDougal run?
Deacons' mammoth linemen Larry Tearry, a 6-foot-3, 265-pound center and Jackie Robinson, a 6-3, 255-pound tackle, is the logical answer since most of McDougal's yard have come following their crunching blocks.
McDougald, with three touchdowns this year, rushed for a school record of 249 yards against Clemson last year. While the Deacons were dropping their fourth consecutive game last week to North Carolina, 24-3, McDougald was slashing his way to 150 yards on 30 carries. He suffered a sprained ankle in the game but is expected to start.
McGlamry (50 completions in 102 attempts for 598 yards) and Young (28 receptions for 301 yards, two touch-downs) will surely try to continue their act, especially since the Terrapin pass defense ranks last in the ACC. The Terrapin's rushing defense is third, allowing 167 yards per game.
"It's just a matter of time before our offense plays up to its capabilities," said Mills. "All year long we've had poor field position and lost the hall at some critical times. Maybe this will bethe week we'll break out may-be it won't."