Kyle Vanderwende was sitting in a team meeting Sunday morning when Miami Coach Howard Schnellenberger casually mentioned that Vanderwende, a freshman, would start his first game at quarterback Saturday against host Maryland.
"On a scale of one to 10, my shock registered an 11," Vanderwende said yesterday. "I just sat there with a blank expression. I didn't know what to do."
When the season began, Miami started a Heisman Trophy candidate, Jim Kelly, at quarterback. Behind Kelly was senior Mark Richt.
But Kelly's season ended prematurely when in the third game he suffered a total separation of his throwing shoulder. Richt moved in and played reasonably well for five games: three touchdown passes and a 49 percent completion rate.
But after last Saturday's loss to Florida State, Schnellenberger said Richt violated a team rule and would serve a one-game suspension.
Richt has declined to discuss what rule he broke but was quoted as saying, said, "My only comment is that I broke one of the rules."
Enter Vanderwende, a red-shirt freshman who did not play last season because of a broken wrist, and has been on the field for only six plays in his Miami career, three last week in the 24-7 loss to FSU.
He has completed two of four passes for two yards. In College Park, he will be expected to direct a passing offense that is as complex as any in college football.
"We'll have to cut down on the package (of plays) for Kyle," Schnellenberger said yesterday. "We'll go more with basic and simple things. That certainly goes away from what we've been winning with in the last couple of years."
Schnellenberger said he is also concerned that Maryland's defense has been especially tough on quarterbacks this season. The Terrapins have sidelined the opposing quarterback for at least one play in six of eight games this season. Three, consecutively, were knocked out for the entire afternoon.
"It worries me because they come at the quarterback from so many different directions with as many as eight men on the line," Schnellenberger said.
"The coaches have been preparing me for that," Vanderwende said of the various stunts and blitzes he probably will face against the Terrapins at Byrd Stadium.
"We'll probably start out running a little more than usual," said Schnellenberger.
"This is not the kind of Maryland team we expected to be facing at the beginning of the season," Vanderwende said.
"This will be like playing Notre Dame, USC or Texas."
What happens if Vanderwende has to come out Saturday? Schnellenberger had a tight end and a defensive back practice taking snaps.
Schnellenberger felt his team played so poorly Saturday he imposed an 11 p.m. curfew after the game, on homecoming weekend, and ordered a practice/scrimmage at 8:30 the next morning.
"A bunch of us were a little mad that we had to practice on Sunday morning," said Vanderwende. "But we needed it. It opened up our eyes a little."
Miami's top receiver is Rocky Belk, a senior from Alexandria and Fort Hunt High School, who ran on the school's track team two years ago and set a record of 9.4 seconds in the 100-yard dash. He has 25 catches for 417 yards this season.
The Hurricanes' leading tackler is Greg Brown, a senior linebacker from Woodbridge and Gar-Field High.