The real football season begins for Maryland this week.
After victories over two teams that probably would have difficulty competing against the Terrapin junior varsity, the Terps face their first legitimate opponent of the season Saturday. They travel to Morgantown to play West Virginia, another 2-0 team after romps over lightweight opposition.
Naturally, given a real foe to pump up, Terp Coach Jerry Claiborne was in his element yesterday.
"I don't care if you're only working against blocking dummies," Claiborne said. "If you get 615 yards in a game, you've had one heckuva game. They've only punted four times in two games, but I guess when you're averaging 550 yards a game, you don't need to punt too often."
West Virginia rolled up 93 points in annihilating Cincinnati and Colorado State. The Maryland defense has given up only nine points in two games and has never been confused with a bunch of blocking dummies. But playing in their new 50,000 seat stadium, the Mountaineers, under rookie Coach Don Nehlen, should provide the Terps with a legitimate test and, at the very least, a good warmup for theri showdown a week from now with North Carolina.
The Mountaineers have excellent offensive personnel in halfback Robert Alexander (314 yards in two games) and quarterback Oliver Luck (63 percent passing). But they have looked weak defensvely, giving up 51 points.
Claiborne's strategy this week is to build up the WVU offense and avoid talk about the defense.The Terps should be able to move the ball and, given the explosiveness of the West Virginia offense, they undoubtedly will try to run more than usual. That means a busy day for Charlie Wysocki and the young offensive line.
"The offensive line has come along well," Claiborne said. "We're real pleased with their progress. But they're going to have to keep getting better because we're going to be playing tougher teams now."
Defensive back Steve Trimble, who twisted an ankle Saturday, has not practiced the last two days and is questionable for the game, as is defensive guard Marlin Van Horn, who did not play last week on a sprained ankle.