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Maryland back in Baltimore

October 28, 1998|By BOB PARASILITI

Maryland back in Baltimore

Can Terps disguise all troubles on Halloween?

BALTIMORE - University of Maryland football coach Ron Vanderlinden had visions of grandeur while sitting at his interview table at football's newest pleasure palace - Ravens stadium.

Maryland will play Georgia Tech - one of the best teams in the Atlantic Coast Conference - at Camden Yards - one of the best facilities in the NFL - at noon Saturday. By Vanderlinden's logic, it could only mean good things for the Terps.

"It's exciting to bring Maryland football back to Baltimore," Vanderlinden said Tuesday at his relocated weekly press luncheon. "There is a great relationship between Maryland and Baltimore. This is a win-win situation for everybody. It is win-win for the Ravens to have the game here. Win-win for Maryland and the state of Maryland for the exposure here. And even win-win for Georgia Tech to be able to play here."

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Meanwhile, despite the glitter and glitz, pomp and circumstances of the game site, Maryland finds itself in a win-when situation.

The Terps (2-5, 0-4 ACC) will enter Saturday's game after an off week that allowed time to lick some painful wounds while allowing extra time to devise a plan to salvage the final four games of the season.

"We really hope to turn it around this weekend," Vanderlinden said. "We thought we were going to start doing it in Clemson, but that was (freshman quarterback Randall Jones') first start. Then the loss to Wake Forest was very disappointing."

Maryland's 20-10 loss to the Demon Deacons two weeks ago sounded taps on a possible breakthrough season. Maryland entertained thoughts of beating Clemson and Wake Forest with giddy dreams of earning a bowl bid.

The breakthrough suffered a breakdown. The Terps' offense suffered a blowout against Wake, forcing Vanderlinden to vow to have more say in the offense. That say became a tailoring the game plan to fit Jones.

"Randall hasn't played as well as he's capable or as well as he will eventually play," Vanderlinden said. "We've been retooling our offense for the last three weeks. The off week came at a good time for us."

Maryland put the offense on the rack and switched it from the Ken Mastrole model to the Jones fastback style.

"We started the season with a strong, powerful running game and counted on the dropback passing style of Mastrole," Vanderlinden said. "But when it didn't work out, we went to Randall. With Randall, we've seen very little blitzing. With fewer blitzes, there is more passing opportunity."

Maryland worked on using Jones' agility to its advantage while simplifying the freshman's passing reads.

"The week off was a big help to Randall," Vanderlinden said. "We weren't just replacing one quarterback with another. We were replacing a whole different style of quarterback. We have to think outside the lines of our offense. We will be more creative. The off week gave us a chance to open things up."

This might not be when the Terps win, but Saturday could move them a step closer to the total package that only Vanderlinden can clearly envision.

"We worked on our play action attack and some concepts that Randall does well," Vanderlinden said. "When he feels more confident in what he is doing, he can be more successful."

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