Maryland Coach Jerry Claiborne said yesterday that senior Mike Tice, if healthy enough, will be the Terrapins' starting quarterback Saturday against Atlantic Coast Conference opponent North Carolina State, despite the exceptional performance by reserve quarterback Brent Dewitz in last week's 17-14 Duke come-from-behind victory over Duke.

"If Mike can get himself ready, he'll be starting for us on Saturday," said Claiborne. "He's moving a whole lot better than he did Monday, but he's not yet at full speed. Actually, it's a day-to-day thing. If Mike isn't ready, Brent will be ready to start. He's practiced well this week and I have confidence in his ability to lead the team," Claiborne added.

Tice, a two year starter for the Terrapins, is suffering from his second hip pointer of the season and missed all but a couple of series against Wake Forrest two weeks ago. He did not play against Duke because of the injury, but practiced yesterday without limping or favoring his right hip.

"I think I'm about 85 to 90 percent of my normal physical condition," Tice said. "If I'm not feeling well on Thursday or Friday, I'll be honest with Coach Claiborne and tell him I should not start and, of course, he will make the decision on who will."

Bob Milkovich started in place of Tice against Duke, but could not move the offense in its scoreless first half. He was benched in favor of sophomore Dewitz, and is now, according to Claiborne, the third stringer.

"I did have a pretty rough day Saturday," said Milkovich. "And I guess everybody's going to have a couple of those over the course of a college career. Becoming third hasn't discouraged me, though, because the competition just makes me work harder. I'm going through practice this week preparing just like I normally do -- as if I'm going to start."

Dewitz, who completed four of seven passed and ran for 20 yards in his rescue mission Saturday, split most of yesterday's practice time with Tice.

"It's kind of frustrating not to start this week," admitted Dewitz, "but Mike and I are very good friends and we always root each other on anyway. I know that if Mike is well, he'll be starting. But I'm preparing myself this week just as I always do."

Tice said he felt so badly after practice Monday he thought he was through for the week.

"I have very sharp pains in my right hip after practice Monday," he said. "So the trainer iced it down and I went to my room, took two asprin and went straight to bed. I kept a heating pad on it all night and when I woke up this morning I couldn't believe the pain was gone.

"I felt surprisingly good. I had no idea I'd be able to make such a fast recovery, especially after feeling so bad Monday. I was so disappointed. Emotionally upset. I called my father and everything.

"I was tight at the beginning of practice (yesterday), but I loosened up more and more as the afternoon went on. I know this type of injury is a day-to-day thing. And if I was coach, I'd have to think about starting Brent after the day he had Saturday, if I wasn't well.

"But it is my senior year and I want so badly to win these last three games and play in a bowl game. I'm the senior and the starter. But if I'm not able to help the team Saturday, I'll be the first to tell Coach Claiborne and maybe Brent will start. The hip feels pretty good now, though, and that's all I want to think about." he said.

Jerry Eisaman, quarterback coach, said, "Mike should be just fine. But with an injury like his, time is the best healer."