Monday is going to be a long day for the members of the Maryland foot football offensive unit.
As the players trudged from the Byrd Stadium field yesterday morning, many shot quick glances at Coach Jerry Claiborne and Offensive Coordinator Jerry Elsaman. Neither coach was smiling.
"Our offense just fell apart today," Claiborne said. "We missed assignments, made basic mistakes, dropped passes, threw passes poorly, missed blocks. It just wasn't very good.
"Our defense looked good. But I don't think it was as good as it probably looked because I think the offense helped it out."
Claiborne's frustration was understandable. In a two-hour controlled scrimmage with the offense starting each possession at the 50-yard line. only 10 points were produced.
The only touchdown came on a two-yard plunge by backup tailback, Wayne Wingfield 90 minutes into the scrimmage.
The field goal was a 29-yarder by all-America Dale Castro, clearing the crossbar even though Lloyd Burruss deflected the ball.But Castro also missed four other attempts, from 42, 45, 47 and 48 yards.
That was it for the offense. Charlie Wysocki gained 60 yards on 12 carries, backup quarterback Bob Milkovich had 50 to 13 carries and Wingfield 28 on six carries. Mike Tice completed two of seven passing with one interception; Milkovich four of five for 30 yards.
"It doesn't take a Phi Beta Kappa to figure out we're not throwing the ball well,". Claiborne said. "What makes it disappointing is that we'd looked good in practice during the week. But a scrimmage is different. That's where you find out. We need more scrimmaging."
The offense had some legitimate alibis. Tice was still sore and hobbling slightly from a hip pointer suffered searly in the week and tight end Eric Sievers turned an ankle early in the day. But their main problem was the veteran defensive unit.
"I'm not worried about the offense," said safety Ralph Lary, who helped make the day miserable for the offense with an interception and causing a fumble by Tice, at the five-yard line.
"Don't forget who they were playing against out there. I doubt if they'll face too many defenses tougher than ours during the season. At least I hope not." Lary said.
"We've still got a way to go," Tice said. "We're off but I don't think we're way off. We just have to keep working hard on the basics."
Clairborne was determined to work on the basics yesterday. The offense struck to the ground game for most of the day, the four quarterbacks running the ball 30 times.
"That wasn't by design, though," Claiborne said. "Most of the time they were running for their lives."
That brought up the topic of the offenseive line, a young unit being rebuilt following the departure of four of last year's starters. Claiborne chose his words carefully.
"You can't really tell much from down here," he said. "We have to look at the film before we pass judgement. Some of the problems may not have been their fault. But it was obvious that some things went wrong."
The opener with Vilianova is now 13 days away. Clearly, the defense is solid and ready, just as every Maryland defense is solid and ready. The question mark is still the offense.
Claiborne knows that. "No, we're not where I want us to be two weeks before the season opener," he said in answer to a question. "Certainly not after today. We've got a lot of work to do."
That work start Monday morning.
Marlin Van Horn and Sievers both sat out most of the scrimmage with injured ankles. Linebacker Joe Wilkins pinched a neve in his neck but said afterwards he was okay . . Defenseive guard Mike Corvino (ankle); defensive end Howard Eubanks (four pulled teeth), and fullback John Nash (throat infection) didn't dress . . . Linebacker Darnell Dailey, operated on for a torn chest muscle Thursday, is likely to sit out the entire season season . . . Freshman defensive back Clarence Baldwin from Archishop Carroll impressed with two interceptions . . . Sam Medile blocked a punt punt . . . Denver Bronco scout Barnie Reid, a former Maryland assistant, was in attendance and showed particular interest in Castro . . . Sophomore Dave D'aDido has been moved from fullback to linebacker and showed well there yesterday.