It has not been the best of summers for Maryland Coach Jerry Claiborne -- on or off the football field.

Last Saturday night he and his wife Fay returned home from a dinner party to find their Hyattsville home had been ransacked by burglars.

"It was a shock," Claiborne said yesterday. "Seems like these days you have to build a fortress to live in, not a house."

Four days before opening the season against Villanova, Claiborne would also like to build a fortress around his team to prevent injuries.

Like last year, the Terps have been plagued by injury problems even before preseason practice.

Five days before the first workout, Jan Carinci, the team's leading receiver a year ago, suffered a slight cartilage tear in his right knee while lifting weights. He has not returned to contact drills.

The second day the team was on campus, starting linebacker Darnell Dailey tore a chest muscle, also lifting weights. He is out for the season.

Then, there are the continuing sagas of Eric Sievers, defensive guard Marlin Van Horn and defensive back Lloyd Burruss. All were injured early last season and sat out the year. Now, back for their fifth year, each is again struggling physically.

Burruss, who had an outstanding spring game, felt a shooting pain in his ankle walking to class last week -- an apparent recurrence of last year's break -- and went to the doctor to be examined yesterday.

Sievers and Van Horn, both of whom had knee injuries, lasted four plays in the team's first scrimmage two weeks ago before injuring ankles.

"Unbelievable," said the usually unflappable Claiborne. "We ran four plays and I look up and the same two guys we lost last year are down again."

Neither Van Horn nor Sievers has had contact work since.

At fullback, Rick Fasano has not practiced for a week because of a pulled grion muscle. Co-starter Jeff Rodenberger missed several days of practice with a scratched eyeball from a defective contact lense.

"Someday," said quarterback Mike Tice, "we're going to get healthy and no one around here is going to know what to do."

Right now, Claiborne is just trying to keep his remaining players healthy and their minds on Villanova.

Last year, the Terps were guilty of looking past the Wildcats in the season opener and played horrendously the first half, fumbling three times and digging themselves a 17-7 hole.

They didn't get the winning score in the 24-20 victory until there were 54 seconds left in the game.

Villanova returns eight of 11 starters from the offense of last year's 5-6 team and both its kicking specialists. The Wildcats also return all four backfield starters, most notably quarterback Pat O'Brien, a fine wishbone player.

The general feeling is that Villanova Coach Dick Bedesem has more talent on hand this year than in any of his five previous seasons at the school.

But that should not be enough to beat Maryland, even if the Terrapins are hobbled. Playing at home and with another relatively easy opponent -- Vanderbilt -- next week, the Terps should be 1-0 by dusk Saturday.

Still, Claiborne will undoubtedly be delighted to get game number one behind him.

"It's always a good feeling to get the fall started," he said yesterday. Considering what the summer has been like, it isn't surprising he would feel that way.

Claiborne is 7-0 against Villanova as Maryland coach and 5-2-1 in season openers, having won the last five in a row. . .Maryland is 36-9 in Byrd Stadium in Claiborn'es eight seasons at College Park. . .the Maryland JV will play Friday afternoon against Milford Prep in Byrd Stadium at 3 p.m. . . .All-Met running back Troy Island, who was dropped from the Maryland team after four days of practice because he did not have a 2.0 high school grade point average, has enrolled at Ferrum Junior College.