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Maryland asking right questions

September 01, 1998|By BOB PARASILITI

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The University of Maryland acted like it was warming up for a round of Jeopardy! instead of the opening game of the 1998 football season on Monday.

Answers: "We're treating them like we would Florida State." "They're making us remember Ohio University." "They're our first game. Someone had to be."

Question: What is James Madison?

Not the president. The university located in Harrisonville, Va., an NCAA Division I-AA program.

"Hey, who do some of the other big schools around play?" said Maryland coach Ron Vanderlinden during his first media luncheon of the year. "Who's Nebraska play next? Alabama-Birmingham. Clemson plays Furman every year. So..."

So, Maryland is looking to open the season on a positive note at 6 p.m. on Saturday at Byrd Stadium. With a win. The opposite of what the Terps did last season when they lost to Ohio University.

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That's something that Maryland can ill afford if it plans to resurrect the program this season.

"Last year was the beginning of the end when we lost to Ohio University," said senior linebacker Kendall Ogle. "It was tough to lose the opener - and to a team everyone thought you should have beaten. This time, we're treating (James Madison) like Florida State."

The Dukes (5-6 last year) probably won't have a resemblance to the Seminoles, but Vanderlinden isn't buying that.

"You only get 11 opportunities to play, and if you can't get ready for one of those chances, something's wrong," the second-year coach said. "What happened last year against Ohio U. has got their attention. This is a more focused team than last year, but they are unsure of themselves. This will give us the chance to go see where we are."

Maryland's senior class met for two hours on Sunday night to address the first game and the season to eliminate another opening-day embarrassment.

"(Sunday) night we got together to set up some leadership, goals and rules to help this team get things going," Ogle said. "A lot of us realize that this might be the last time that we might be able to play football. ... When you look back, you want to say you helped to turn things around here."

Even if it starts with "just" James Madison.

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