Those who arrived at Bryd Stadium yesterday expecting the pre game skydiver to be the last time Maryland went to the air were pleasantly surprised. The football Terrapin, though still very much a plodder, will not be totally landlocked this season, and yesterday he sent a green wave of envy through Tulane.
But before giving Maryland its due, a five yard penalty for improper use of adjectives - must called on Jerry Claiborne. The Maryland coach reached back into his pregame collection of superlatives even deeper than the law allows. He insisted Tulane could play; in fact, Tulane could not even have been the best 3-8 team in the country last season.
Tulane has a 63-percent passer the coaches would not let pass for the longest time yesterday. But when Roch Hontas did drop back it was not into the sort of pocket he had in mind. Mostly, he was in Charlie Johnson's pocket, or wondering if his body would be blacker than his spirits.
And what the Terrapin offensive line, Larry Stewart and his pals, did to the Tulane defense might not pass the censor. One play Maryland had been trying to execute for a year, to take advantage of a rule change, finally worked - for one exceptional gain and one touchdown.
Last year the blocking rule was altered to allow linemen and receivers to smack any opponent down field as long as a pass was completed behind the line.
"It's nasty little play," said the Maryland defensive line coach, Gib Romaine.
Yesterday Tim O'Hare would flip a pass that at times seemed almost a lateral - and by the time Steve Atkins or Preacher Maddox caught it in the flat, hordes of Maryland blockers would be burying Tulane tacklers. Presumably, the North Carolinas, Clemsons and Penn States will offer better defenses.
If O'Hare was getting all the benefits from excellent linemen and runners, that was entirely proper. Justice demands that sort of thing for O'Hare, because he has given much more than he has received at Maryland.
"I knew if I stayed I'd play," he said. "That's what they say around here - and I believed 'em. And her I am. For four years, I'd watch everyone else talking with reporters and I'd just dress and walk out.
"This is the first time I had anything to do with a game that we won - and you can't imagine the feeling."
O'Hare arrived at Maryland five years ago, full of hope. Those with exceptional memories will recall that such as Bob Avellini and Ben Kinard were the quarterbacks at the time - and that pups named Mark Manges and Larry Dick moved ahead of O'Hare.
"When I was redshirted," he said, "I made up my mind not to let anyone behind me play ahead of me." Specifically, he was referring to Mike Tice, whose 6-foot-7 show began falling over him last fall.
Sophomore Tice has the sort of arm that gives coaches long-term contracts. His high-school coaches would deflate the footballs some now and then, so the receivers could hold his passes.
But O'Hare survived. He finally started yesterday, and completed three more passes than he tried his prior varsity years. Claiborne was especially impressed with the first of O'Hare two touchdown passes, a 13-yarder over the middle to tight end Eric Sievers.
"One of their linebackers was coming in there clean," Claiborne said, "but he held his poise. He threw it well, popped it over the other guys and right on the money."
Is there such a thing as four years of collective rust that an O'Hare must scrape away?
"If I'd been brought along a little earlier," he said, "I could have been a little better. As the game went along, the more you do something the better you are at it. You can sit in a classroom and look at the defenses, but until you throw with that rush you just don't learn.
"You've got to be under pressure."
He was speaking in general terms about what Don Meredith once described so graphically. During his early years with the Cowboys, Meredith changed a play at the line of scrimage and the opposition's middle line-backer immediately moved in position to foil it.
So Meredith called another audible. And the same linebacker once again switched to where the play would go. Thoroughly frustrated, Meredith said to the linebacker: "Why don't you stay where Tom Landry said you'd be.?"
Yesterday it did not matter where Tulane stayed, for a Maryland blocker would smack him to earth for O'Hare. But O'Hare, more than most, realizes a quarterback remains a starter only as long as the passes keep flowing accurately.
"Nothing short of a broken neck is going to keep me out," he said. "He (Tice) has a lot of potential and I like him. But he's just going to have to wait 'till next year."