Maryland Coach Jerry Claiborne joked earlier this week that he hasn't been sleeping well lately, worrying about all the passes he expects West Virginia to throw against his inexperienced Terrapin secondary today.
For the second consecutive Saturday, Maryland will be facing a team that may throw the ball 40 times or more. The Terrapins (0-1) will be opening their home season against West Virginia (1-0) at 1:30 p.m. at Byrd Stadium.
West Virginia's game plan revolves around senior quarterback Oliver Luck, who teamed with senior wide receiver Darrell Miller to embarrass Virginia's veteran secondary for 211 passing yards last week.
"Luck is the finest quarterback we'll play against this season," Claiborne said. "He has as accurate and as quick a release as anybody I've seen."
Maryland beat the Mountaineers, 14-11, last season in Morgantown, W. Va., as tailback Charlie Wysocki ran for 149 yards and two touchdowns. If his sore ankle is well enough, Wysocki will run his usual 30 times against a vulnerable Mountaineer rushing defense.
The key to Maryland's day will be the performance of the defensive backfield against Luck, who completed 19 of 30 passes for 206 yards in last year's game. "Sure we're worried about our secondary," Claiborne said.
Luck continually picked on Darryl Reaves, Virginia's sophomore cornerback, last week, especially on third and long. David Taylor and Lendell Jones, Maryland's cornerbacks, and safety Bill McFadden played sparingly last season and are, in effect, rookies.
"We're playing the best we've got back there," Claiborne said. "They've just got to get better." The secondary did not allow a long pass against Vanderbilt, though, and the players say they are more confident.
Claiborne also is concerned about injuries to his linebackers. Mike Muller, Darnell Dailey and Joe Wilkins, who have ankle injuries, may play, but probably not at 100 percent.
Luck has been exploiting linebackers: four of Miller's seven first-half receptions came on plays over the middle, underneath the backs. If the Terps are forced to go with reserve linebackers, they could be in trouble.
"We're playing some folks that aren't supposed to be out there right now," Claiborne said.
Bob Milkovich, who will start at quarterback for the Terps in place of injured Brent Dewitz, completed 13 of 20 passes for two touchdowns last week. He will be facing a daring Mountaineer secondary that often leaves itself vulnerable for long gainers, but goes aggressively after sacks and interceptions.
Howard (1-0) plays its first Mid-Eastern Atlantic Conference game against Bethune-Cookman in Daytona Beach, Fla., at 7 p.m. The Bison can pass against anybody in the conference, and they think they have the complementary long-yardage running back they need in Richard Vickers, a walk-on sophomore who gained 93 yards in a sluggish victory over Cheyney State last week.
The Wildcats' strength is defense. They may use several defensive backs one-on-one against Howard's top receiver, Tracy Singleton, which could be good news for the Bison since Singleton has been effective despite double coverage.
Navy, which won its 500th game last week, is host to Division I-AA opponent Eastern Kentucky.