The Maryland Terrapins and the Midshipmen of Navy both can charge onto their respective fields today with heads held high because of victories a week ago. The more difficult trick will be to leave with the same posture.
The Terrapins have been herky-jerky the first six weeks of the season. As Coach Joe Krivak said after their loss two weeks ago to Miami, "I'm groping for consistency."
Maryland will try to achieve that today beginning at 12:05 p.m. when it faces the Duke Blue Devils at Byrd Stadium. The homecoming crowd could be there for a while because, even though Maryland ran more than it passed in beating Wake Forest last week, Krivak said he will need to pass more often and Duke Coach Steve Spurrier enjoys putting the ball in the air.
"It might be a game where they have to turn on the lights before it's over," Krivak suggested.
When Pittsburgh and Navy meet at noon at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, the teams are likely to keep things down to earth. The wishbone helped the Midshipmen post their first victory of the season last week at Pennsylvania, but it is not made for the pass. The problem Navy faces is a talented Panthers team that has had two weeks to learn to defend against the wishbone since beating Notre Dame. The Panthers (4-2) also will try to keep the ball on the ground and in the hands of tailback Craig (Ironhead) Heyward, who is 6 feet and weighs 260 pounds.
The Navy defense won't be pleased to know that Heyward will probably hurl his bulk at them at least 30 times. He has carried 181 times for 780 yards (4.3 yard average) through six games, the fourth-highest total in Division I-A. He's scored six touchdowns and has caught 15 passes for 167 yards. The Panther with the next highest number of carries is quarterback Sal Genilla with 26. The second-leading rusher, Adam Walker, has only 21 carries for 136 yards.
"If he carried 42 times against Notre Dame, I'm sure he will against Navy," Navy Coach Elliot Uzelac said. "You know who's getting the ball. It's just a matter of doing something about it.
"You've got to understand 260 pounds picking up speed at 4.6. . . now there're going to be some train wrecks out there and I think the Naval Academy is going to suffer."
Plebe Alton Grizzard again will start at quarterback for Navy (1-5). Last week he ran for 225 yards on 23 carries, which was the highest rushing total ever for a Navy quarterback. However, Navy threw only one pass (which was incomplete) against Penn. The Midshipmen are likely to be in more passing situations against the bigger, stronger, faster Panthers defense.
"Even though we have a freshman at quarterback, we can't be one-dimensional," Uzelac said. And as for the Panthers' defense, he added, "The thing that worries me is they can really run. Now we can have a good play and maybe last Saturday it was a 15- to 20-yard play. This Saturday, it might be eight or nine."
The Terrapins (3-3 overall) still think they can win eight games, but that means winning the rest. Clemson is alone in first place in the Atlantic Coast Conference with a 3-0 record, while Maryland, Wake Forest and North Carolina are tied for second at 2-1. Maryland plays North Carolina next Saturday at Byrd, and two weeks later visits Clemson.
The Maryland defense played its best game of the year in shutting out Wake Forest, 14-0. The secondary played especially well, but probably will need to play even better today. Wake Forest threw the ball because it was behind. Duke throws the ball simply because it wants to, and does it reasonably well.
Maryland's right cornerback, Mike Hollis, who has started every game so far, will not play because of a sprained ankle. That necessitated moving strong safety J.B. Brown to the corner and inserting Kevin Fowlkes at strong safety. Fowlkes has played a fair amount this year, but the switch comes at a bad time.
"Duke throws an average of 50 times a game," said Krivak. "They are a screen and draw team that lives and dies with the passing game."
It appears Duke will start Steve Slayden at quarterback, though Anthony Dilweg threw for 305 yards in the Blue Devils' 17-10 loss at Clemson last week. Spurrier, who won the 1966 Heisman Trophy while at Florida, often uses three receivers and one running back, which will force the Terrapins into more nickel coverage. "He likes to have fun with the offense," said Maryland defensive coordinator Greg Williams, a bit chagrined. "It's nice for him, though it keeps me up nights."
Maryland has won 13 in a row over Duke, but to keep the streak alive, the Terrapins will need more consistency on offense.
"Offensively, we're still sputterring around," said Krivak, who expects to pass more this week after Dan Henning threw only 14 times last week. "In the first half against Wake, we had a good mix of run and pass. The biggest problem is penalties -- movement, offsides and holding."
The Virginia Cavaliers (3-4, 1-2) will be at home tonight at 7 to face Wake Forest and they will try to do the same thing Maryland did a week ago -- stop Coach Bill Dooley's running game and force quarterback Mike Elkins to pass in long-yardage situations.
Howard (4-1, 2-0 in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference) will get quarterback Lee DeBose back, just in time for arch-rival North Carolina A&T (3-3, 1-1).