SHREVEPORT, LA., DEC. 14 -- When Louisiana Tech decided to make the move to Division I-A three seasons ago, Coach Joe Raymond Peace went against traditional philosophy and made offense a priority over defense.

"In the community I live in, you better be able to throw the ball if you expect to live there for very long," said Peace, who spent the five previous seasons as an assistant.

"I'd been there before when the team struggled on offense and I wasn't going to fall into that trap," he said. "Besides, going into Division I-A, I didn't see us winning very many 10-6 games. If we were going to win we were going to have to outscore people -- I didn't think we could sit in the trenches and slug it out and expect to win."

Maryland Coach Joe Krivak was asked today if the Terps were looking down at Louisiana Tech because it wasn't a long-established Division I-A opponent and because this is a lightly regarded bowl game.

"Heck no, none of that bothers me at all," he said. " . . . It was important for the members of this team to play in a bowl and we're happy to be here."

Back at Long Last

Maryland's last bowl appearance was in the 1985 Cherry Bowl -- a 35-18 victory over Syracuse.

The only member of this season's team to play in that game was linebacker Scott Whittier, who has been at Maryland for six years after being granted an extra season as a medical redshirt.

"All I remember is that it was cold and blustery {in Pontiac, Mich.} the whole time we were there," he said. "We turned down the Aloha Bowl in Hawaii because the Cherry paid more money; no one thought it was that big a thing because we were going to bowls every year then."

A number of Maryland players prepared for final exams during their time here, and at least a dozen players have taken exams, monitored by Gerry Gurney, the academic support director.

"It wasn't anything that was hanging over our heads," said quarterback Scott Zolak. "If anything, it was better to get them over with rather than waiting to take them when we got back. There was less pressure here than sitting in a classroom with 300 other students."