University of Virginia football coach Dick Bestwick, like most others in his profession, spends hours at the movie projector studying opponents in an effort to know what to expect from the bad guys on Saturday.
This week, as his team prepares to face the University a of Maryland at Byrd Stadium, Bestwick has a new twist to an old problem. He doesn't know what to expect from the good guys.
"There is no way to predict what will happen,'" Bestwick calmly said. "We'll be starting players that, frankly, are not ready to play major college ball, players that should be playing freshman (junior-varisty) ball."
Injuries, the same poblem that has reduced Maryland from an 11-0 Cotton Bowl team in 1976 to 6-4 squad struggling for any sort of bowl bid, have been the nemeses of Bestwick as he has compiled a 1-8-1 record in his second year as the Cavalir head coach.
Fourteen letterman, including 10 starters, will not make the trip to College Park. A total of 24 freshman will be on the traveling squad, and many of them will start. Two of the defensive starters will be walk-ons. Bryan Shumock, who started the season at quarterback, will open at cornerback.
"The major reason for the injuries," according to Bestwick," has been the tremendous amount of time out defenders have had to spend on the field. And we didn't have the depth to rest them." Now the untrustworthy reserves are the starters.
Last week, in a 35-14 Virginia loss, North Carolina's offense ran off a staggering 92 plays against the outmanned Cavs. This week, in order to avoid further injuries, there has been no hitting in the Virginia practices.
There is some quality, however, among the survivors. "Our best player, at last by pro football standards, is our tight end, Mike Newhall," claimed Bestwick. "He's about 6-2 1/4, 235 pounds, and runs the 40 in 4.7 seconds. Against Carolina, he caught a pass, ran right over three tacklers and got a 41-yard touchdown."
Trying to hold together the green defensive unit will be cornerback Derrick Glasper and overworked tackles Grant Hudson and Lee Browsing.
Bestwick managed to see a positive side to the decimation. "Our underclassmen are getting some early experience, he said. "They'll either become fine athletes or wonder what they're doing playing major-college football.
"We plan to be three Saturday. We'll play hard, and I hope we'll play well. But I think our chances may depend on whether Maryland really wants to get a bowl bid or whether they don't think a minor bowl bid is worth an extra month of practice.
"It's not a particularly special game for us, except for two things. It's do-conference game and when you're doing poorly, even the Sisters of the Poor would be a big game."