Tim O'Hare has firmly established himself as Maryland's quarterback. Steve Atkins is running over everyone again, and the Maryland defense is capable of coming up with the key play - like the late fourth-quarter fumble recovery that led to the winning score in Saturday night's 24-17 win at Louisville.

But, with the Atlantic Coast Conference opener coming up Saturday at defending champion North Carolina, the 2-0 Terps have to be concerned about their kicking game.

Last year Coach Jerry Claiborne used the now-departed Mike Sochko for short field goals and Ed Loncar for long ones. Against Louisville, Loncar booted a 50-yarder but missed from 34, 47 and 30 yards.

Loncar will keep his job, but in practice this week Claiborne may take a look at punter Dale Castro's ability to kick short field goals.

The missed field gas partially camouflaged Maryland's offensive effort, coolly led throughout by a scrambling O-Hare. Claiborne showed confidence in O'Hare by not using freshman backup Mike Tice when the Terps trailed, 17-10, with 10 minutes left.

On his 45-yard touchdown pass to Dean Richards, O'Hare shuffled through tacklers and looked as if he were about to fall on his face.

"At first, it was going to be a running screen to Atkins, O'Hare said. "But they had everybody and his mother on that side, so I audibled at the line for a flat pass to Dean. He always goes deep if he can, though, and I was lucky to get away and see him.

"I wasn't planning to scramble so much," said O'Hare, who completed 10 of 18 passes for 161 yards. "But their secondary was doing a good, solid job. Those guys were so fired up."

Atkins, who rushed for 118 yards before leaving late in the game with bruised ribs, was X-rayed yesterday, but Maryland spokesmen said they expected the report to be negative and were optimistic that Atkins would be available Saturday.

"We actually stopped the sweep pretty well," said Louisville defensive end Billy Perrin. "It was just that Atkins was hitting inside, then bouncing outside. They really were broken plays. I felt like they had guys coming off the bench at me."

Louisville was still smarting over the single mistake it feels cost them a tie in a game marked on its calendar for three years.

Starting quarterback Stu Stram left the game after the first half with a concussion and a laceration (not a broken rose, as was first reported) Stramis Louisville's "no-mistakes" guy, while backup quarterback Terry Mullins is known for his throwing. Mullins rallied the Cards beautifully but his fumble was the mistake that set up Maryland's winning touchdown.

"I'm so frustrated I can barely talk," Vince Gibson, Louisville coach, said. "We need both our quarterbacks. I don't think Maryland could have driven it another time if we hadn't fumbled. There wouldn't have been enough time. It would have ended 17-17."

Elsewhere in the ACC Saturday, Clemson performed as expected in its opener, squashing The Citadel, 58-3.

"It was very important for us to go out and dominate a football game," said Clemson Coach Charley Pell.

But North Carolina, with a new head coach in Dick Crum and a new offense in the veer, struggled for the last 30 minutes and had to rely on last year's strength, defense, for a 14-10 win over East Carolina.

"We had the first-game blues," said UNC quarterback Matt Kupec. The first half was characterized by missed scoring opportunities and penalties, in the second half the Tar Heels had just one first down.

North Carolina State upped its record to 2-0 by beating Syracuse, 27-19; Virginia Tech defeated - Wake Forest, 28-6; and Navy handled Virigina, 32-0. The Cavaliers have yet to score in two games this year. Duke (1-0) was idle.

Locally, HOward opened with a 23-21 losses to Maryland-Eastern Shore.

There were few upsets or surprises among the nation's top teams, other than Ohio State's poor debut against Penn State and 18th-ranked Kentucky's 19-0 defeat by fifth-ranked Penn State. Heralded freshman Art Schlichter was intercepted five times.

Top-ranked Alabama beat 10th-ranked Missouri, 38-20, but Coach Bear Bryant. "We acted like we were dying. I can't remember seeing one of my teams collapse like that. It should teach them a lesson."

Bryant hopes the Tide will learn quickly. They play fifth-ranked Southern Cal Saturday. The Trojans upped their mark to 2-0, crushing Oregon, 37-10.

Vanderbilt Coach Fred Pancoast called third-ranked Arkansas "the most awesome team we've ever played" after the Razorbacks won, 48-17. But the margin wasn't enough to satisfy Arkansas Coach Lou Holtz, who said he called a poor game.