In 90-degree heat yesterday, Maryland's Charlie Wysocki carried the ball 36 times. And lived to talk about it. Even laugh.
"No reason to think I couldn't do that every game," he said, still smiling.
And no reason for us not to believe that such a pace would have him being tutored intravenously after the Penn State game and melting into a rag doll-like heap somewhere in Byrd Stadium against Clemson.
Let that number marinate a bit in the mind. A 36-times-a-game pace would have Wysocki carrying the ball 75 more times after 10 games than Larry Brown did after 14 games of his fatiguing Redskin season.
It seems harsh for a coach to ask for that sort of punishment play after play, week after week, month after month. But Jerry Claiborne, hardly a cruel man, very likely will demand it. Given what did not happen during Maryland's 7-3 victory over Villanova in the season opener, Claiborne may have no other choice.
Anyone who knows him even casually is rooting for Mike Tice to become the quarterback of his dreams, to all of a sudden cut through whatever mental fog plagues him, to rediscover control of his fastball and pass everyone on the Terrapins' schedule crazy.
That did not happen last year; it did not happen yesterday, when it probably should have, when Villanova defenders frequently were no closer to Maryland receivers than Wild Bill Hagy, the cheerleader famous for making an S of himself.
Because Tice was just four for 14 for 69 yards, the Terrapins are very likely to retreat even further into their running-game shell. Even if he had the next Sonny Jurgensen as a starter and the latter-day Joe Namath as the backup, the Maryland coach would never be called Jerry Airborne.
But Claiborne wants his quarterbacks to gain at least 150 yards a game passing. When they produce slightly more than half that, as happened yesterday, he tends to trust them even less. Which is understandable.
Some Maryland insiders argue that Claiborne has stayed much too long with Tice, that at 6-foot-7 and 235 pounds he might well be a football player but he certainly is not a quarterback. Too awkward, they insist. And too slow.
Claiborne was about as publicly critical of Tice as he will get ("We didn't have continuity offensively") and, like nearly all the other 32,650 sun bathers in Byrd Stadium, under the assumption Mike botched a seemingly certain touchdown pass to his brother John in the first quarter.
Mike ovethrew John at the goal line on third and five from the Villanova 27. It was not his fault the pass fell incomplete.
"He kinda geared down a little when he got open," Mike said. "The route was new to him. He'd been injured, then played tackle for two weeks. He hasn't worked that much at right end lately. He got open and I laid it up."
In a far corner of the dressing room several minutes later, John added, "If I hadn't slowed down, the ball would have been right in my hands."
So what you see is not always reality.
What you are likely to see this week against Vanderbilt -- and on and on and on -- is Wysocki left, Wysocki right and, in a fit of imagination, Wysocki up the middle. In truth, the Maryland passing plays are about as inventive as those any other college uses. But few of the plays went as diagramed.
If most everyone else shudders at the prospect of the squat, 200-pound Wysocki being overworked, Wysocki seems to relish it.
"I want 1,500 yards this year," he said. "You have to set goals for yourself, look at guys who are doing what you're trying to do and make yourself work harder. Last year it was Charles White (of Southern Cal.
"He did it (average an inordinate number of carries). He'd also run into you, as well as go to the outside. I like that. He was sort of my idol last year. This year it'll have to be someone else, maybe George Rogers (of South Carolina) or Famous Amos (Lawrence of North Carolina), guys who are supposed to be the best."
Wysocki hit the word supposed very hard, as though it was the only defender between himself and the final yard for the game-winning touchdown in a major bowl.
"If I stay healty," he added, "I'll get the yards."
"But can he stay healthy at such a killer pace? He missed two games with a leg injury last year and still carried 247 times -- for 1,140 yards.
"I might not have missed those games, in fact I'm sure I wouldn't have missed them, if I'd been dressed properly," he said.
How's that? You mean he failed to wear matching socks. Or his shirt was not properly tucked inside his pants.
"I didn't have the right (hip) pads," he said. "I used smaller ones than I should have at the start of last year, so I could get more speed. And because the pads were smaller than the slot that holds them, they tended to slip away from what they're supposed to protect.
"One of them had slipped to the side of my leg during the opening kickoff against Kentucky and I got a blow to my thigh. It bothered me for five weeks. At one point (against Wake Forest and Duke), I couldn't play."
Wysocki gained 177 yards yesterday. It is an impressive number by itself, but one that will be broken down and graded by Maryland coaches. One of the Terrapin team goals this season is to each game gain at least 100 yards rushing -- AFTER CONTACT.
"Say you're a lineman," Wysocki said, "and say you should have had me at the 22. If I got to the 14, that's eight yards of contact. There are after-contact yards and also great runs."
Wysocki paused and added: "I didn't have any great runs today."
Surely, he was being overly modest. There was a 12-yard gain once in the first half when he slipped in and out of the arms of four Wildcat defenders. Charlie, that was a great run.
"Nope," he said. "It was a great-effort, yards-after-contact run."
So what is a great run?
"Something like the 73-yarder I had against Mississippi State last year. Or the 49-yarder against Clemson. Acutally, any time I get the ball in the end zone. But over 40 yards is what I want. I'm tired of those 15-yarders, those eight-and nine-yarders. I want to get bigger runs. I can do it."
He'll get plenty of practice.