There was a lot of reevaluation yesterday in College Park, where the Maryland football team confronts a 2-2 record only four weeks after being considered a contender for a national title. So, although it was natural that the Terrapins seemed to be hanging their heads after Saturday's 20-0 loss at Michigan, Coach Bobby Ross was not in a mood to tolerate it.
"They better not be," Ross said, his voice rising. "That better not be a problem. They'd better be prepared to go to work on Monday. They better not be hanging their heads."
What probably upset the Terrapins more than anything after yesterday's film review was that they broke down in so many routine tasks Saturday.
Maryland defensive tackle Scott Tye said, "It's not a shock in the sense that we lost or that Michigan is a great team. But I'm shocked we got beat like this."
Among the blunders were missed third-down conversions, a missed 31-yard field goal by Ramon Paredes, a fumbled kickoff return by Keeta Covington, and a fumble by normally reliable fullback Rick Badanjek at his two.
"We did some things we don't normally do," Ross said.
He insisted that Michigan's defense, although extremely quick, was nothing innovative or particularly confusing. "The structure of it wasn't anything we've never seen before. They blitzed us quite a bit early. But we got to the point where we felt we could run the ball."
But another shocker was that Badanjek, the solid senior fullback, carried the ball just five times for 28 yards, with only one rushing attempt in the first half. Ross said he was conscious of trying to get the ball to Badanjek more after halftime, and Badanjek started the second half with two carries for 27 yards. But he ran the ball only twice more.
Maryland had to be disappointed in wasting such a good defensive performance. The Terrapins defense actually accomplished something of a feat, holding the Wolverines to essentially 13 points in their stadium before more than 100,000. Michigan did score another touchdown, but it came after Badanjek's fumble at his two.
The only thing Navy did differently Saturday was get a couple of breaks, according to Coach Gary Tranquill, but that made all the difference in a 17-13 upset of No. 20 Virginia in Charlottesville. Like the Terrapins, the Cavaliers are in the position of being a highly thought of preseason choice that instead is struggling.
The Midshipmen had lost their three previous games by a total of eight points. Turnovers and penalties had been the story in losses to North Carolina, Delaware and Indiana, but against Virginia, they finally turned the other way.
"I've been saying all along that we aren't that bad a team," Tranquill said. "We just got a couple of breaks Saturday that we haven't had before."
Virginia had three turnovers, with two interceptions from Don Majkowski and a fumble from Barry Word, after giving up just one in their first two games. The Cavaliers also had a couple of important penalties, including a holding call that probably deprived them of a touchdown.
One large break for Navy came with 4:55 remaining, when Napoleon McCallum grabbed a badly thrown pass from Bill Byrne on third and eight and turned it into a 24-yard gain. The pass was intended for split end John Lobb farther downfield. But McCallum drifted deeper than his pattern called for and tipped the pass in a crowd of three defenders, then caught it.
The reception enabled the Midshipmen to control the ball for the remainder of the game, moving to the Virginia 17 before time ran out. It was perhaps the key play, combined with Navy's third-quarter, goal-line stand that forced Virginia to settle for a field goal. With the Cavaliers threatening with a first and goal, linebacker Eric Fudge dropped Word for a loss, Virginia was called for holding and moved back to the 11, and Willie Snead dropped Majkowski's pass near the end zone. "When you lose by close margins there are five or six things you could pick out," Tranquill said. "Saturday they dropped a couple of passes, and we got some luck with Napoleon tipping that pass. Those are the kinds of things that turn games around."
Breaks aside, the Midshipmen deserved credit for a couple of well-conceived variations that seemed to cross up the Cavaliers. Defensively, they did not blitz as much as they had in the first three games, the linebackers instead faking the blitz and then dropping off. That contributed to the interceptions, by Fudge and Vince McBeth. Offensively, Tranquill came up with a trap play for fullback Chuck Smith (10 carries, 59 yards) that yielded good yardage.
"All week we were psyched up for Virginia," linebacker Jim Dwyer said. "We wanted to go out and ruin what they had going. We knew we had to turn it around, this had to be the game."
If Navy is not as bad as its record, it is entirely possible that Virginia is not as good as its 2-1 mark and No. 20 ranking. The Cavaliers have suffered greatly from injuries to the offense. And the absence of flankers Quanah Bullock, with a sore shoulder, and John Ford, with a sore knee, certainly contributed to their inconsistent passing. Majkowski completed 11 of 21 for 108 yards, and has had to work with constantly shifting personnel.
Defensively, the Cavaliers are admittedly inexperienced with only four starters back and an entirely new interior line and secondary. Although they only gave up 17 points, they allowed the Midshipmen 24 first downs and 262 yards rushing, and let them control the ball for the final five minutes.
"We're not in sync on offense and we have a young defense," said Coach George Welsh. "I've been saying those things for three weeks. No matter what the polls say, we're not that good yet."