Maryland Coach Bobby Ross reaffirmed yesterday his decision to make Dan Plocki and Ramon Paredes compete for the place-kicking duties against Duke Saturday, but did concede that Plocki has an edge.

Speaking at the Terrapins' weekly press luncheon, Ross said Plocki, a freshman walk-on who made four field goals last week against Wake Forest in his first college game, now has dibs as the incumbent.

"We will keep up this competition, but now Ramon has to beat out Dan," said Ross, referring to the numerous daily field goal attempts his kickers must take in front of the whole team. "Plocki did a heck of a job (against Wake Forest) and he handled the pressure quite well. Kicking-wise, that was our best game of the year."

Paredes, a junior, has missed four of his seven field goal tries this season and was told of his demotion the night before the Wake Forest game. Although he still handles Maryland's kickoffs, Paredes complained earlier this week that the daily job battle kept him from concentrating during games.

"You don't like to keep pressure on people all the time, but I don't know any other way," Ross said. "(Plocki and Paredes) are very equal. They have to be able to perform under pressure and I don't know of any that is worse than peer pressure."

Nevertheless, Ross called Paredes the "underdog" in the competition, and Plocki said he could already feel the heat.

"Before, I was kicking to try and get a job, and now I'm kicking to try and keep it," said Plocki, whose four field goals came within one of equaling the school single-game record. "But I hope people keep pulling for me. I'm still the new kid on the block."

Both kickers got encouragement yesterday from their predecessor, Jess Atkinson, now a rookie with the New York Giants. Atkinson, who works out at College Park every Tuesday, said he is in favor of the place-kicker rivalry.

"To kick (under pressure) on a daily basis has got to make you better. You can't afford to let up," Atkinson said. "I know I went through it every spring at Maryland, and the team will benefit no matter who wins."

Junior running back Tommy Neal (knee injury) and freshman cornerback Chad Sydnor (chin injury) will miss two days of practice after getting injured against Wake Forest.