Maryland coach Jerry Claiborne yesterday confirmed reports that Tim O'Hare will start at quarterback in Saturday's home opener against Tulane. Then he said that the Terps may substitute at quarterback more than usual this season.
Before summer practice began, it was expected that long-throwing sophomore Mike Tice would get the job, but a sore arm and other problems developed, and O'Hare was never seriously challenged for the job.
Tice has no varsity experience and O'Hare, a fifth-year senior who had not lettered, estimates he has run 50 plays. O'Hare's knowledge of the system won him the job, and he is aware that it is not his for the keeping.
"As long as he moves the ball club, we'll go with him," said Claiborne. "If not, we'll make a switch.
"We've got to get Tice and (Bo) Milkovich some experience, in case anything happens to O'Hare. So we might substitute at quarterback more than we normally have."
Claiborne said he will probably start freshman tailback Charlie D. Wysocki because Steve Atkins jammed toe is still troubling him. He said that all three tailbacks including Alvin (Preacher) Maddox would play, however.
Claiborne has never started a freshman in the backfield in the season opener.
Wysocki, the star of all three scrimmages, is the only freshman who stands a chance of cracking the starting lineup. The other freshmen on the right guard Mike Corvino from St. Pius X High School in Pen Argyl, Pa., and backup defensive right tackle Jerry Rogers from St. Pius X High in Pottstown, Pa. Tice's brother, John, is a third-string freshman tight end.
The only starter counted on this Saturday who will definitely miss the game because of injury is quick tackle Jim Ulam, with a strained knee. Scott Franz and Scott Collins will fill in for him. Wingback Dean Richards has not scrimmaged yet, nursing an ankle injury sustained when a walk-on tackled him in a pickup drill. Richards is expected to start, however, and has been practicing.
Depth became a critical problem in the defensive secondary when Chris Ward began experiencing problems related to the disk surgery he underwent last spring. Ward, who is experiencing pain in his leg, will be out at least three to six weeks to undergo epidermal nerve block tests.
Ward said that his doctor "wants me to out-and-out quit my career, because I may damage my back and need another operation."
That leaves the Terps with only five healthy players in the secondary. Vetern left halfback Lloyd Burruss, staring safety Ralph Lary, and new starting right halfback Steve Trimble are in good health. Sam Medile, who backs up Trimble, is doubtful due to a severe ankle sprain. John Baldante will work behind both Lary and Trimble, while sophomore Same Johnson backs up Burruss.
The first defensive unit has been outstanding in practices and scrimmages, but there is almost no experience past the starters. "We just hope our offense can control the football and stay on the field longer," said Claiborne. That mens a lot of running, which is no surprise with the passing game completely rebuilt and still a little shaky.
Maryland is ranked 12th nationally by Playboy, 18th by The Sporting News, 20th by United Press International, and as "Also receiving votes" by the Associated Press and Football News. Claiborne said, "I'll make my prediction after the 11th game." Claiborne, who turned 50 last month seeks his 50th Maryland win Saturday.
Eleven of the 22 players who started the Hall of Fame Classic return for the season opener, six on defense. Ulam and Ward would have made it 13.
Team captains chosen for the opener are O'Hare, fullback Mickey Dudish, linebacker Neal Oikewicz and defensive tackle Charlie Johnson . . . Chris Wentzel, a Maryland graduate, will parachute into the stadium before the game and deliver a football to Acting Governor Blair Lee, university President John Toll and Athletic Director Carl James. He will be wired for sound during the jump.