More than the most frustrated fan, Maryland Coach Ron Vanderlinden is aware of how dreadful the Terrapins' offense frequently performed in the season opener last Thursday against Temple: 0 for 15 on third down, 10 times beyond midfield, twice inside the 10-yard line and no touchdowns. Vanderlinden yesterday placed most of the blame on the offensive line and said he plans one lineup change among the linemen and another move designed to challenge fifth-year senior guard Jamie Wu, a team co-captain.
"Our mentality up front isn't where it needs to be," Vanderlinden said. "We don't really understand how hard you have to play up front. I'm not sure we're nasty enough. . . . Those older guys have got to step it up."
After practice, Vanderlinden also was very concerned about which running backs the offensive line would block for Saturday against Division I-AA Western Carolina. Starter LaMont Jordan worked in full pads, but still favored the thigh bruise he suffered against Temple and aggravated Monday during a post-practice sprint.
"I'm disappointed," Vanderlinden said. "I thought he'd be just about at full speed."
Jordan remained optimistic.
"I feel a lot better than I did yesterday," he said. "But I thought I'd bounce back more quickly. Hopefully, I'll be able to go full speed [today], get in a good workout Thursday and be ready by Saturday."
Jordan's backup, Mookie Sikyala (sprained ankle), ran on the sideline yesterday and Vanderlinden said he is "very doubtful" for Saturday.
The tailbacks during most of the practice were freshman Bruce Perry, the Pennsylvania MVP in this summer's Big 33 Pennsylvania-Ohio all-star game, and senior Harold Westley, who started the first two games last season but ran behind Jordan thereafter.
"At this point," Vanderlinden said, "I'd say dipping into the third string is a pretty strong possibility."
The one immediate change on the offensive line is at left guard. Redshirt freshman Todd Wike has recovered enough from a broken bone in his right hand to regain his starting position, although his mobility Saturday may suffer from having to wear what Vanderlinden called "the biggest cast you've ever seen."
Sophomore Chris Snader, who started at left guard against Temple, will move to right guard. That's where Wu has started the past 12 games. Wu and left tackle Brad Messina are two of the five captains, but Wu was the only veteran on the line Vanderlinden mentioned.
"Part of Jamie's problem is that because [of a back injury] he hasn't been able to condition," Vanderlinden said. "So he's a little overweight and hasn't been able to practice as much. These are all good reasons for not having a stellar performance. However, he's a senior who should show up on game day and perform at a higher level.
"There's nothing like competition to get your attention."
Clearly frustrated, Wu's only comment was: "Coach has every right to say what he did. The back got a little tight [during practice] but that's not my biggest concern right now."
The offensive lineman who most impressed Vanderlinden against Temple was redshirt freshman right tackle Matt Crawford. But the 6-foot-6, 295-pound native of Moravia, N.Y., has missed the past two practices with a swollen knee.