In an effort to improve his team's weak pass defense, Maryland Coach Jerry Claiborne said yesterday his defensive linemen will vary their pass rush to keep Florida's passing attack off balance Saturday.

"We're going to mix up our pass rush more, because our being able to stop their passing game will be the key factor," Claiborne said at his weekly luncheon. He has cause to worry because the Terrapin defense has allowed three mediocre teams at least 250 passing yards each.

Florida quarterback Wayne Peace, who is completing 54 percent of his passes, threw for 271 yards and two touchdowns in the Gators' Tangerine Bowl victory over Maryland last December.

Claiborne said that three of his regular running backs -- Jeff Rodenberger, John Nash and Willie Joyner -- were slowed by minor injuries the first two days of practice this week. Nash, who rushed for 104 yards in the Terps' only victory this season (against N.C. State two weeks ago), is suffering from asthma attacks and his status is being evaluated on a day to day basis.

Joyner, who gained 96 yards against West Virginia, has a pulled hip muscle but ran fairly well in practice Monday. Rodenberger, who was the starting tailback last week, has a sore neck. Joe Brkovich, the substitute fullback, may start if the others aren't healthy enough. Tight end John Tice (neck) and defensive tackle Mark Duda (sprained ankle) are expected to play.

HOWARD: Coach Floyd Keith said yesterday "there is the probability of a quarterback change" before this week's game at Delaware State. Sophomore Sandy Nichols, who completed 13 of 22 passes for 214 yards and one touchdown, likely will replace senior Ray Gray. Sophomore offensive tackle Zane Smith is expected back from a knee injury. Defensive backs Doug Jones and Alan Biggs and running back Jeff Wise also are expected to return from injuries.

"I won't know how to react with so many healthy people on the sideline," said Keith, whose team is 1-3.

NAVY: Navy hosts Air Force at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis. Navy has added 4,000 seats and has standing room tickets ready in anticipation of a crowd of more than 30,000.

Running backs Eddie Meyers (thigh) and Napoleon McCallum (hip) are practicing this week and both may be ready for the game.

VIRGINIA: Cavalier Coach Dick Bestwick is converting sophomore flanker Bob Sweeney into a defensive back because of so many injuries in the backfield. Bestwick used members of his sixth-string secondary last week. Safety Pat Chester practiced Monday, but had trouble on his injured knee. Bestwick, who injured his knee in a sideline tumble Saturday, is wearing a cast.