Dick Dull, Maryland's athletic director, gave Football Coach Jerry Claiborne a vote of confidence yesterday, even though the Terrapins (1-2-1) are off to their worst start since 1974 and face a strong Florida team on the road Saturday.
"We're concerned, of course, any time we lose," Dull said in response to a question from a reporter. "But we're not about to panic. Coach Claiborne's record (74-33-3 in his 10th season) speaks for itself. Internally, I have not heard one word of criticism from the staff or alumni concerning the football team or Coach Claiborne. There's not doubt in my mind he'll get things untracked and back on the road.
"These first games have been a fluke more than anything else. I'm sure things will be much different at Florida this weekend."
Claiborne, whose team has had trouble defending against the pass in three games, said he has been going through "a whole lot of worry" about Florida's diverse passing attack.
A Florida victory could end Maryland's hopes for a postseason bowl appearance. The Terps also have games remaining with top-20 teams North Carolina and Clemson, both Atlantic Coast Conference rivals.
Claiborne said yesterday he is planning no changes in his starting defensive alignment, which collapsed in the fourth quarter Saturday and allowed Syracuse to come from two touchdowns behind and tie the Terps, 17-17.
"We're going to do the same things we've been doing -- only we have to do them better this week," Caliborne said of his defense. "I'm not worried about any bowl bid. Right now we're worrying about stopping Wayne Peace (Florida's starting quarterback) and Florida's passing game. That team can throw."
Peace, or alternate quarterback Bob Hewko, could throw 40 or more passes to any of five receivers. Peace completed 20 of 34 passes for 271 yards and two touchdowns in Florida's 34-20 victory over Maryland last December in the Tangerine Bowl.
Claiborne was incorrectly quoted in yesterday's editions. He did not say the defensive secondary must take the brunt of the blame for the Terrapins' tie with Syracuse. That phrase was incorrectly placed in quotation marks.The Washington Post regrets the error.