DURHAM, N.C. -- Maryland football coach Mark Duffner has a reputation as a great motivator, but it will be interesting to find out if the Terps are emotionally ready for today's game against Duke at Wallace Wade Stadium (1:30 p.m.).
Maryland (1-6 overall, 0-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) is coming off an embarrassing and season-low homecoming loss to Wake Forest, 30-23. The Demon Deacons had lost 21 of their previous 22 ACC games. Against Duke (2-4, 0-3), Maryland is facing a team that also is having a disappointing season and looking for its first ACC victory.
Plus, it's homecoming for the Blue Devils.
"For days, we were struggling with the Wake Forest loss," said Frank Wycheck, Maryland's junior part-time slot receiver and running back. "I think by the middle of the week we finally got over it.
"We're upbeat now and this is a big game for us. If we win this one, it will give us momentum for our remaining three games against North Carolina, Clemson and Florida State. Against those three teams, we'll need every edge we can get."
In the previous five years under former coach Joe Krivak, Maryland collapsed in the second half of each season. The Terps had a cumulative record of 8-16-1 in the last five games of each regular season, the only winning mark being 3-2 in 1990, the year Maryland went to the Independence Bowl.
Duffner has vowed to keep the Terps hustling.
"I don't have any desire to ever get used to something like this. I certainly know the feeling of winning, and there's nothing better," Duffner said. "The sooner we all experience that, the better. But for now the only thing we can do is keep battling."
Today's game could be another pass-happy contest for the Terps. Duke is running more (229 attempts, 3.3 yards average) than passing (205 attempts for 1,381 yards), using a two-back set and the talent of tailback Randy Cuthbert (117 attempts, 559 yards).
But Maryland is allowing 255 passing yards a game. Starting senior strong safety Andre Vaughn is doubtful because of a neck injury, and senior starting free safety Scott Rosen is questionable because of a sprained left ankle.
Think the Blue Devils won't revert to that one-back set of previous years and throw on the Terps?
"I expect them to throw all over the field," said Duffner.
Duke has not faced a run-and-shoot offense this season, but Blue Devils coach Barry Wilson said Maryland's offense is similar to the one his team faced last week against East Carolina. Duke won, 45-14.
Maryland enters the game with the nation's fifth-ranked passing offense, averaging 320 yards.
"There are some similarities between Maryland and East Carolina as far as style of offense," said Wilson. "They're not identical, but they do represent at least some of the formations and types of passes that we have seen against East Carolina.
"I hope that we can fare half as well as we did, but Maryland has moved the ball effectively, and has scored points, and yet they have played some very tough opponents, so their won-loss record is not as impressive."