In the building of a football program, there is usually a season -- or a stretch of games -- that can be looked back upon as the turning point. Some day, that point of Howard University's history under Coach Steve Wilson may be traced to one game.

Howard started a surprising 3-1 last year, Wilson's first as coach and then it traveled to a game against Indiana (Pa.) University. Howard's offensive line outweighed the defensive line of the Division II Indians by an average of more than 30 pounds per player. But Indiana pushed the Bison around as it recorded a 34-14 victory.

Wilson's predecessor, Willie Jeffries, had left Wilson a stockpile of offensive linemen weighing more than 300 pounds. Jeffries thought big linemen worked best in his option offense that required simple blocking.

Wilson, fresh from 10 years in the NFL, did not think what he inherited fit into his multiple, pro-set offense. Immediately after the Indiana debacle, he decided a change had to be made.

Two years earlier Howard attracted national attention for having seven players of more than 300 pounds, led by Willie Felder, then 401 pounds.

"This is the end of that era at Howard," Wilson said as he stood in the rain that day. "We are going to get leaner and stronger and learn to play fundamental football."

Center Paul Ramseur clearly heard the message. The 6-foot-2, one-time 320-pound senior has lost 50 pounds, and may be the most improved player on a unit that was often maligned last year.

The sour taste left by the Indiana game led Ramseur to give up sweets, as well as red meat and desserts. He worked at a program designed by assistant coach Rubin Carter. Ramseur spent four days per week in the weight room; the other days he ran and did excercises.

"He is one of the hardest workers we have on the offensive line," said new offensive line coach Fred Dean, a former Washington Redskins Hog. "He lost 50 pounds, which is hard for anyone to do, but the thing about him is that he did it and got stronger. He is the strongest person we have on the line."

Not all the Bison offensive linemen have taken a weight dip. Robert Carpenter, who started at guard last season as a freshman despite being an undersized 6-3, 225 pounds, has bulked up to 255. Junior tackle Nigel Greene remains the line's monster at 6-6, 320, but Dean maintains Greene has outstanding quickness for his size.

Howard's offensive line recruits this year are lean and quick. The offensive linemen have named their unit "Dean's {Bull}Dozers" and say they already feel benefits from his experience. But if Howard's weakness of last year is to be significantly better this season, Dean's lessons will have to be absorbed rapidly.

"He has brought a new attitude," said Ramseur. "He was a Hog. He has been there. When he says something, you can be sure he knows what he is talking about. We are hoping to start a new tradition at Howard."