Maryland Athletic Director Debbie Yow said last night she is pleased with the football program's current direction and is "looking forward to" discussing an extension of Coach Ron Vanderlinden's contract after this season.
Vanderlinden is heading into his third season at Maryland, which gave him a five-year contract after Mark Duffner was fired and Vanderlinden was hired from Northwestern, where he had been the Wildcats' defensive coordinator.
The Terrapins went 2-9 in 1997 and 3-8 last season. They went 4-7, 6-5 and 5-6 in their last three seasons under Duffner.
For recruiting reasons, if a college athletic director likes the way a football coach is performing, it is common to make sure the coach is not working with only a season or two remaining on his contract.
"Continuity is important," Yow said. "We need to continue moving in a positive direction and I happen to believe we will. I look forward to sitting down with Coach Vandy and talking about an extension after the season is over."
Yow said there is "no magic number" of games the Terrapins must win this season for Vanderlinden to receive a contract extension. "We're moving in the right direction, and that is the key," she said.
Vanderlinden could not be reached last night, but during an afternoon news conference as part of an Atlantic Coast Conference media tour, he said: "I feel like the worst is over. . . . I really do believe we have a team that's capable of breaking through and winning."
Yow praised Vanderlinden's recruiting efforts, citing the five verbal commitments his program already has received from high school seniors, two from players she said have been mentioned on preseason high school all-American lists.
She said the team has been progressing, especially considering its youth. According to Maryland's media guide, the Terrapins had at least 20 freshmen or sophomores on their first or second teams during every week of the 1998 season.
Of the 44 players on the Terrapins' current first and second teams, 22 are freshmen or sophomores.
"We're getting stronger every year," Yow said. Vanderlinden "is doing a very good job of getting talent in here, and that's what it takes. I understand that as a [former college basketball] coach. I know how challenging building is--and that's with a basketball team. It's much more difficult with a football program."
Maryland became a respectable defensive team last season, moving from 87th in Division I-A in total defense and 92nd in scoring defense in 1997 to 53rd in total defense and 58th in scoring defense. But that was with senior linebackers Kendall Ogle and Eric Barton, both of whom were selected in the NFL draft.
The Terrapins continued to struggle on offense even though then-sophomore running back LaMont Jordan rushed for 906 yards. Maryland was 50th in the nation in rushing offense, but 95th in scoring offense, 103rd in passing offense and 105th in total offense.
Six of Maryland's opponents last season went to bowls; it beat none of them. This season, the Terrapins open with Temple, a team they beat last season, and Division I-AA Western Carolina. They play their other nonconference opponent, West Virginia, in their third game.
Navy's Shubzda Shines
In Navy's first preseason scrimmage, the starting offense didn't score many touchdowns, but senior kicker Tim Shubzda made 13 of 16 field goal attempts, including a pair of 47-yarders.
Starting quarterback Brian Broadwater (12 carries for 48 yards; 9-of-17 passing for 100 yards, one touchdown, two interceptions) took the majority of snaps, as backup Brian Madden sat out with a slightly pulled groin. Two starters, linebacker Daryl Hill and slotback Dre Brittingham, also sat out with minor injuries, and starting wide receiver Travis Williams saw little action. Coach Charlie Weatherbie expects each to return to practice this week.
Special correspondent Rich Scherr contributed to this report.