It is a good day when Bobby Ross can poke fun at Maryland's 1-28 record against Penn State. In fact, everything looked decidedly, if temporarily, brighter to Ross yesterday after an open date and a leisurely week off.
"We're riding high after our defeat of Open," Ross said in his first meeting with the media in two weeks. "We haven't lost to Open for, how many years has it been? Thirty or forty.
"It almost matches Penn State on the other side, so we feel real good about that."
The Terrapins' lingering disappointment over two losses in their first five games, to Penn State and Michigan, was diminished when the Nittany Lions turned up ranked sixth in the nation this week and the Wolverines were a lofty second. Ross spent much of his week comparing this season's Terrapins with the team at the same point last year; their record has improved at 3-2 over 2-3 in '84, they are gaining more yards and giving up fewer, and have a total of 28 sacks, already three more than for all of last season.
So what's not to like? The week off has distanced them from the two losses, and Ross claims there will be no more agonizing over victories that might have been. There is also the pressing question of Saturday's meeting with Wake Forest.
"Realistically, we're ahead of where we were in years past," Ross said, "although in a lot of people's eyes maybe that's not so. From this point on it's a look-ahead attitude, we're not going to deal with the past . . . I'm attempting to put anything that might have a negative connotation behind us."
One of the results of the week off is that fullback Rick Badanjek is fully healthy for the first time since the season opener against Penn State. He suffered a deep thigh bruise against the Nittany Lions, then sustained a minor ankle injury against Michigan.
Ross has been contemplating some personnel changes, the most significant at right guard, where George Colton is being moved ahead of Jeff Holinka on the depth chart. Ross said Colton, a 6-foot-2, 260-pound senior, has been playing well enough to earn a chance to start and that he would "play it by ear" in deciding on his starter for Wake Forest. At center, Dave Amend and John Rugg remain competitors for the starting job, as do tight ends Ferrell Edmunds and Chris Knight.
Ross forbid player interviews during the week off. He said his idea was simply to give the Terrapins time to themselves after the occasionally trying five weeks, and to ease the load during a week when many had exams.
"We figured we were giving them some time away from the coaches, so we'd give them some time away from all the elements," he said. " . . . There's no denying that there may have been some degree of frustration, that they felt they were unable to satisfy anyone, including themselves. We lost two games we wanted to win badly. But it's not the end of the world."