Clemson week officially has commenced for the Virginia Cavaliers, and for a team that looked positively powerful in winning at Kansas, 59-10, on Saturday, the general mindset is one of puzzling paranoia.
In College Park, meanwhile, yesterday was just another day at the office, sort of, for Maryland Coach Joe Krivak but he allowed that Saturday's opening 20-13 victory over Virginia Tech at Byrd Stadium was "a nice one." And you knew he knew it would be a busy six days till his Terrapins tackle West Virginia (1-0) in Morgantown.
The Cavaliers (1-0) churned out 564 yards offensively -- 275 on the ground and 289 in the air -- in Lawrence. Three tailbacks combined for 181 yards and four touchdowns, and quarterback Shawn Moore threw three touchdown strikes and rushed for a fourth score.
A Virginia defense suspect last season as a healthy veteran unit appeared surprisingly composed for a patchwork assemblage of freshmen and ex-reserves up front. Coupled with a veteran secondary, they held Kansas tailback Tony Sands (1,109 yards in 1989) to 12 yards on 15 carries, while forcing three fumbles. All but nine of the 71 Cavaliers played, brought on not so much by the score as by the 94-degree game-time temperature, which reached 130 on the AstroTurf.
"The big concern I had was the heat," Virginia Coach George Welsh said. "It's a good thing our program is in the shape that it is. . . . We played a lot of people. Otherwise we would have run out of gas."
Three projected defensive starters -- defensive end Chris Slade, nose guard Ron Carey and linebacker Yusef Jackson -- did not play. Only Carey, who underwent arthroscopic knee surgery two weeks ago, made the trip. Jackson suffered the latest in a long string of illnesses and ailments, reinjuring his knee in practice Wednesday. Slade, the most adamant Cavalier in his distaste for Clemson -- could be sidelined another week with a nagging sprained ankle.
Trainer Joe Gieck said all three players will be examined today.
Slade's replacement, junior Rickie Peete, did a fair impersonation of the Cavaliers' top pass rusher, causing one fumble and recovering another. Not bad for a player who walked on to the team two years ago and received his first scholarship just the past spring, and was one of many new defensive starters with an intriguing success story.
Benson Goodwyn, who rushed for 80 yards as a reserve running back two years ago -- 21 of them in his one start, against Penn State -- started opposite Peete at defensive end. Don Reynolds, who lost his job at defensive end to Slade last season, moved to defensive tackle, and seldom used junior Matt Quigley stepped in for Carey.
Freshman P.J. Killian and sophomore James Pearson won the open audition for linebackers.
Still, quarterback Moore felt the Cavaliers "didn't dominate." Cornerback Tony Covington said the performance against Kansas wouldn't be enough to win this Saturday, and Welsh still insisted his team isn't any good.
That could change should the Cavs defeat Clemson in Charlottesville. Clemson (1-0) is the only ranked team on the Virginia schedule, and an obsession for the Cavaliers, who are a historic 0-29 against the Tigers.
"It's the next step for Virginia football, and Clemson's in our way," defensive tackle Joe Hall said. Put in Covington: "It's going to be a war."
And Maryland at West Virginia, always tight, should be more than a mere skirmish.
Although the Terrapins ultimately triumphed on a 51-yard pass play, Scott Zolak to Gene Thomas, the difference between nice and nasty was reed thin. Neither team could sustain any sense of momentum. That was why Krivak said yesterday Maryland still has "to clean some things up; we're not home free yet."
The drama of a winning touchdown with 1:01 left, and tipping away an end zone pass with :04 to play, shouldn't have been.
After taking a 13-10 lead in the third quarter, Maryland pushed the Hokies back to their own 1-yard line, only to have returner Dan Prunzik misplay two punts and the Terrapins turn the ball over four straight times.
Despite the miscues, Virginia Tech could muster but three points. The Maryland defense responded and gave up just three first downs the entire second half.
"They had two decent drives the whole game. Other than that we were stopping them three plays and out," said linebacker Scott Whittier. ". . . We've been together for so long that we can look at each other and know what's going on. We've had our backs to the wall so often, now I think that may have helped. A lot of hard work pays off."
Krivak said that despite problems on offense, along the sideline among the players and coaching staff there was no sense of Maryland slipping back into old bad habits.
"All there was," the coach said, "was encouragement. No one was screaming or yelling and we were able to bounce back and we made some big plays. . . . We have to correct our mistakes -- obviously we made a number of them -- but we were giving a good effort and that's what was encouraging."
While Zolak and H-back Frank Wycheck set school single-game completion (28) and reception (14) records, Krivak was just as pleased with a rushing attack that got 96 yards from Troy Jackson, Darren Colvin and Mark Mason.
"It was better than in the past," said Krivak. "The runner ran hard and he line came off the ball well."