COLLEGE PARK — COLLEGE PARK -- Slogans won't do it. Neither will pep talks, be they the daily variety from coach Mark Duffner or the one they heard Tuesday from Gov. Schaefer.
No, what Maryland needs to restore its confidence and affirm that it is on the proper path is a victory. After six unfulfilling games in which they were often overmatched, the Terps get their best chance thus far in 1993 this afternoon (1:30 p.m.) against Duke at Byrd Stadium. It is Maryland's homecoming.
Duke is 1-5, and winless in the Atlantic Coast Conference since beating the Terps here two years ago. Maryland is saddled with an 0-6 record for the first time in 27 years, and the losing streak is weighing down a young team that has been starting six freshmen and five sophomores.
"Were trying to keep up as much as we can, but when you're 0-6, it's tough," said quarterback Scott Milanovich, one of the sophomores.
Has Maryland's longest losing streak since the 1968 team lost its last five and the 1969 team dropped its first two had a cumulative effect?
"Yeah, I think it snowballs," Milanovich said. "It's just like winning. When you have a winning program, you end up winning some games you shouldn't, just because you're used to winning. When you keep losing, you lose some games you shouldn't, just because you're used to it.
"I think each week, with every loss, it's starting to get a little bit heavier. The urgency for a win gets a little bit bigger. That's why it's so imperative for us to get a win, and get one soon, to keep it from snowballing."
Duffner, who said he would be concerned about his team's attitude even if the Terps were 6-0, is basically starting from scratch after losing close to 30 players from last year's 3-8 team and three senior defensive starters to injury. The majority of his players have never played a meaningful part in a college victory.
"A lot of them don't know how it felt to come back against Duke last year, how it felt to beat Clemson," senior linebacker Jaime Flores said. "Maybe in the beginning they were content just to be playing, but now that they know they're in it for real, their attitude has changed. The young guys are maturing. I think they've forgotten about the losses."
They are memories the Terps can live without. Maryland's defense is rated last among the 106 Division I-A teams in yards allowed, and the offense that kept them in the first three games produced one touchdown the last two weeks.
The Terps are one of four I-A teams without a victory, and unlike Milanovich's explanation about a struggling team losing games it shouldn't, it's not as if they let any get away. Maryland has led for all of six minutes and seven seconds this season.
Penn State (70-7) and Georgia Tech (38-0) outscored Maryland by a combined 101 points the last two weeks, the worst successive beatings the Terps have endured since the first two games they ever played, in 1892.
Fortunately for the Terps, Duke is more in their league. Forget the Blue Devils' 13 senior starters, and they are in several ways a mirror image of the Terps. Both teams like to throw, have been limited by shortcomings in the kicking game, and have had injuries pile up.
"The mental part, knowing it's a team we beat last year, helps, but it gives Duke incentive too," Milanovich said. "No matter what anybody says, it [losing] is going to take a toll, and it will be like that until we win."
Division I-A football teams with the most difficult schedules,
based on the records of opposition:
Team .. .. .. .. .. ..Opp. rec. .. .. .. .. ..Pct.
Duke .. .. .. .. .. .. .27-5.. .. .. .. .. .. .844
Maryland .. .. .. .. ...26-6.. .. .. .. .. .. .806
Northwestern .. .. .. ..20-6.. .. .. .. ... . .769
Kansas .. .. ... .. .. .18-8.. .. .. .. .. .. .692
Miami .. ... .. .. .. ..18-8.. .. .. .. .. .. .692