Mistakes, a major concern for Maryland Coach Jerry Claiborne throughout the preseason, remained high on his list of worries yesterday, 24 hours after the Terps opened their season with a shaky 24-20 win over 19-point underdog Villanova.
"All along I've been worried about the mental mistakes, errors of concentration," Claiborne said yesterday. "The first quarter we moved the ball well and our defense looked tremendous. I remember thinking, 'We're going to play a good football game.'
"Then, our next four possessions, we had a 15-yard penalty after a first down, a fumble, an interception and another fumble. One mistake after another."
The mistakes put the Terps in a 17-7 hole and only the solid play of their defense and the domination of their offensive line brought them back.
"I don't know why we made those mistakes," Claiborne said. "If I did, this job would be easy. I guess we werent't mentally prepared. We'll have to do better next week."
The Terps play at Clemson Saturday in a rematch of the game that decided the Atlantic Coast Conference title a year ago. Clemson won, 28-24, and if the Tigers stand out in one area it is their defense's ability to come up with the big play.
"We're going to have to do a lot of things better," Claiborne said. "Mike Tice didn't have a particularly good game. He missed some receivers and didn't hit some when they were in the open area. But part of that was because the receivers drifted on him a few times. But it was his first game, he was a little excited and he made the plays at the end."
Tice, the 6-foot-7, 230-pound junior also was critical of his own play and was particularly distressed about the second-quarter interception he threw.
Asked about the key play of the game, a 25-yard strike to freshman Mike Lewis on third and seven from the Villanova 29 and 1:27 left and the Terps down by three, Tice grinned and explained: "I just shut my eyes and threw it."
Clemson opened its season Saturday with a 21-0 win over Furman, its 11th straight victory -- the nation's longest winning streak.
Rookie Clemson Coach Danny Ford, who made his debut in last season's infamous Gator Bowl that ended Woody Hayes' Ohio State coaching career, won his first regular-season game, Lester Brown gained 101 yards in a little more than a quarter and new quarterback Billy Lott passed for one touchdown and had 191 yards total offense.
How well Lott performs in place of graduated All-America Steve Fuller will be a key in Clemson's defense of its title.
Claiborne said no new injuries had cropped up on his team overnight. Defensive guard Marlin Van Horn, who damaged ligaments in his left knee in the second quarter, will be examined today by team doctor Stanford Lavine to determine if he needs an operation, which would put him out for the season.
Claiborne is hoping that offensive guard Paul Glamp (ankle) and receivers Gary Ellis (mononucleosis) and Chris Havener (charley horse) who did not dress Saturday will be ready for Clemson.
Virginia'a 31-0 romp over visiting Richmond represented the Cavaliers' most lopsided victory since 1970 and its first opening-game triumph in six years.
"The way we'd been getting hammered the past few years, we need any confidence-booster we can get," said Cavalier Coach Dick Bestwick. "But there are a lot of things we will have to improve on before playing N.C. State next week. We had seven fumbles and several missed assignments."
Bestwick lauded the offensive line as well as the performance of safety Tony Blount (four tackles for minus 19 yards) and running back Greg Taylor (147 yards, three touchdowns).
"We're still a young team, but an experienced one," Bestwick said. "Last year we were in nursery school. This year we're a kindergarten team, but a very good kindergarten team. Next year we'll be ready to go to school."
Sophomore starting quarterback Todd Kirtley's leg injury was rediagnosed as a calf cramp, rather than a strain, as first thought and he should start against State.
Howard University Coach Floyd Keith, although pleased with the Bison's 24-17 victory over West Virginia State, was disappointed at several missed scoring opportunities by his team.
"We should have done more," Keith said. "The defense gave us 15 possessions, but we missed knocking them out by not executing well."
State broke long plays of 44, 55 and 66 yards en route to a 315-yard offensive output. The Bison totaled 270.
"Those three plays accounted for half of their offense," Keith said. "You can't take that away, of course, since it's part of the game. But the defense was on the field too long. A lot of mistakes were first-gamers. Experience will be the biggest thing for us."
Keith added that the biggest question mark entering the game was his defensive backfield -- a young unit with two sophomores and a freshman. "They (State) had trouble finding open areas in the coverage," said Keith.
Second-ranked Alabama did little wrong in mauling Georgia Tech, 30-6, in the renewal of a series canceled 15 years ago because of lopsidedness of Albamama's victories.
Nevertheless, Coach Bear Bryant of the Crimson Tide managed to find fault. "We didn't score every time we got the gall and we didn't stop them every time they got it."
Top-ranked Southern Cal lost the Pac-10s all-time career rushing leader in the second quarter of its game against Texas Tech. All-America tailback Charles White bruised a shoulder, but his replacement, sophomore Marcus Allen, came on to gain 105 yards and score a touchdown as the Trojans prevailed, 21-7.
No. 12 Stanford got a bad taste of Creole cooking in New Orleans, losing to hometown Tulane in an upset, 33-10. Green Wave quarterback Rich Notas threw for a pair of scores and ran 25 yards for another.
Marc Wilson tossed a three-yard touchdown pass with 52 seconds to play and then hit Edgar Lacey with a two-point conversion aerial as Brigham Young upset No. 14 Texas A&M, 18-17.