Maryland wingback Jan Carinci hasn't caught a pass in the last three games. Only three have been thrown his way.
Coach Jerry Claiborne expressed displeasure yesterday over the fact that the Terps have been missing open receivers. As the staff seeks this week to refine the passing attack, Carinci said there may be some changes.
"I think you'll see our passing game open up quite a bit in the next few games, especially against Penn State, as strong up the middle as they are," said the sophomore from Canada.
Carinci, the offense's youngest starter at 19, is one of the cogs in a passing attack that many Maryland watchers thought might never appear.
Quarterback Tim O'Hara, the oldest offensive starter at 22, is the other newcomer. They have combined so well with veteran starters Dean Richards at split end and Eric Sievers at tight end that Maryland now enjoys the luxury of having a pass attack to criticize.
"We've been running things like comebacks, screens and circles that aren't high risk patterns," Carinci explained. "Teams are getting on to this a little bit, so we're going more now to other things.
O'Hara had his worst effort of the season last Saturday, throwing two interceptions and completing five of 11 passes. Sophomore Mike Tive came in and had to overcome nervousness before throwing a 31-yard strike to Preacher Maddox.
The two are different in every way imaginable. The emotional tice throws bullets but has had trouble taking speed off the ball on shorter passes. O'Hara throws a slower, softer ball that is easier to catch - for both receivers and defesive backs. That he has been intercepted only three times in 110 passes is primarily because he has had the judgment to know when not to throw. Claiborne says both quarterbacks have missing open receivers.
Claiborne said Tice looked "scatterarmed" Saturday.
"He was missing open receivers, but so was Timmy. Sometimes those things happen," said Claiborne. "The biggest thing Mike has to do is relax and bend his knees. He's throwing stiff legged and overthrowing his receivers.
"At the beginning of the season our biggest worry was about an inexperienced quarterback coming through for us. And he (O'Hara) has."
After the game at Duke Saturday, O'Hara and his receivers will face their biggest challenge when, they face Penn State on Nov. 4. Maryland rushed for only 57 yards against the Lions last year and will need a steady pass attack this time if it is to spring an upset. Penn State beat the Terps last year, 27-9.
Richards is, by a whopping 10 catches, the leading receiver with 19 receptions for 314 yards. Carinci, who made several key catches early in the year, is tied for second with backup split end Gary Ellis nine catches apiece. Sievers has eight.
Carinci is the only nonredshirted sophomore starting for the Terps. The position, he says, "dropped in my lap." Both Richards and wingback Don Dotter were injured during the summer drills, so Carinci ran at wingback with Ellis at split end. Wingback had been Richars' spot, but the coaches were so pleased with Carinci's all-around game (he is capable blocker) that they moved Richards to split end, left Carinc at wingback and made Ellis a reserve.
Lately, Carinci said, defenses have been covering him and Sievers with three people, leaving Richards to go one on one, which suits Carinci fine.
"Dean is by far our best receiver," said Carince.
Richards is faster than Carinci, but Carinci has made a place for himself by making difficult catches and holding onto the ball after he's hit.
As well as being the team's baby face, he also is its only foreigner. Carinci's mother, a native German, moved to England, where she met Carinci's father, an Italian in the merchant navy. They were married and Carinci was born in London. Later, the family moved to Toronto in search of a better life.
In high school, Carinci played for both his school team and a city league team. "I'd practice at school from 3 to 6," he said, "go home, have a glass of orange juice and then practice with my city league team from 7 to 9:30."
He also made te honor roll.
All this caught the attention of the Toronot Argonauts of the Canadian Football League, particularly since Carinci was kicking 50-yard field goals in addition to playing wide receiver, running back and defensive back.
The Argonauts offered to make Carinci the second player ever to go directly from high school to the pros, and Carinci says the ensuing publicity "went to my head. I stopped doing things around the house.My friends even noticed it."
Carinci turned down the offer because he couldn't get a contract clause stipulating that he would not be traded.
"I didn't want to be traded 3,000 miles away at 18," he said.
Even at Maryland, Carinci went throught a rough bout of homesickness that brought his parents 500 miles down Canadian and American highways to visit him a few days his freshman year.
"I was ready to go home," said Carinci who had to learn fundamentals Canadian coaching had overlooked.
"Mark (Mabges, former Maryland quarterback) really took me under his wing, and that helped me." said Carinci. "A lot of the guys said that Mark wasn't a team guy, that he was a snob, but a lot of the things said about Mark aren't true.
"Before the first game, when they gave out jerseys, mine was white - which was the color the varsity was wearing. He saw this and he said, "You look good in white.'"
Carinci's varsity jersey was, in fact, so white his freshman year that "when I used to get in, in the fourth quarter, when we were ahead 50-0. I'd go jump in a mud puddle right away to get dirty,"
He gets dirty all the time now.
Third-string fullback Rick Fasano will make his first collegiate start Saturday because of the injuries to starter Mickey Dudish (ankle) and backup Steve Koziol (harmstring). Koziol reinjured his hamstring Saturday morning stretching after he woke up. "He hurt himself yawning," Claiborne said, trying to find a cheery note on his injury list. The Terps have been lucky with injuries until now, Dudish, Koziol, Dotter, Scott Collins and Richard Cummins are questionable for the offense Saturday. Duke, 3-3, will start Stan Driskell at quarterback in place of Mike Dunn, who has a sore thumb and hasn't been playing well.