Maryland Coach Bobby Ross had been through all of his postgame evaluation and analysis of his team's 31-17 victory over North Carolina State Saturday night. He shook his head a bit, and thought about the five games.
"Boy, we've had some tough, hard football games," he said. "It's been a battle and we're only halfway through the season."
The news out of Virginia's 37-14 Atlantic Coast Conference victory over Duke Saturday night in Charlottesville wasn't all good, either, although the Cavaliers got their offense and defense together for the first time in a 3-1 season. Fullback Antonio Rice sprained knee ligaments, his second serious injury this season, and will be out several more weeks.
Saturday's game was only his second appearance -- he dislocated a shoulder in fall drills and sat out until last week's upset loss to Navy. Coach George Welsh said he might consider redshirting Rice, depending on how long it takes him to recover.
Maryland's 12th consecutive ACC victory wasn't secured until two minutes remained in the game, when quarterback Stan Gelbaugh ran 19 yards for a touchdown following the Terrapins' sack of State quarterback Erik Kramer, who fumbled.
The Wolfpack had tied the game, 17-17, in the fourth quarter, and had played well throughout, as Kramer completed 28 of 43 passes for 325 yards.
The entire game changed tone when linebacker Chuck Faucette prevented the Wolfpack (1-4) from going ahead, 17-3, by tackling Mike Miller and forcing a fumble at the goal line. Instead of trailing by two touchdowns at halftime, Maryland went 99 yards to tie the game, 10-10, at the half.
"We had some inconsistencies but we looked unbeatable at times," Ross said after yesterday's film review.
He was less than satisfied with his pass defenders, who allowed Kramer and his receivers to convert third-and-long situations. But the Maryland pass rush produced nine sacks. And Ross said guard Bruce Mesner probably played the best of the linemen.
The defensive line, which has been playing so well, may lose some depth. Guard Neal Sampson, who reinjured his knee in pregame warmups, will have arthroscopic examination today, as will guard Tommy Parker.
Ross said several other players were aching. But they should have time to recuperate because Maryland -- which doesn't play Saturday -- won't practice again until Wednesday. "I do think this open day is coming at a good time," he said. Maryland next plays at Wake Forest on Oct. 19.
Virginia's Rice, a senior, is familiar with injuries. He sat out most of his sophomore year with a broken arm, and saw just limited action last season behind senior Steve Morse.
Most of the Cavaliers' yardage and three of their four touchdowns Saturday night came on the ground from their collection of virtually indistinguishable backs. But what they were most pleased about was the success of their passing, which had been a start-and-stop affair.