The Terps have had a quarterback controversy since their third game, when an ineffective Milanovich was replaced by Kevin Foley. Foley started and Milanovich received considerable playing time in the next two games, but the Maryland offense was not at peak efficiency with what was close to a revolving-door situation.
Coach Mark Duffner decided to bag the script that called for two quarterbacks, but he needed a week off and 13 days to decide on who would get the lead role. He appears committed to Milanovich, who came out yesterday only when Brian Cummings ran the short-yardage offense for six plays.
"We'll probably start Milanovich," Duffner said when asked his plans for Saturday's game against Georgia Tech, which begins a pivotal three-game homestand at Byrd Stadium.
Duffner cited Milanovich's experience. The junior from Butler, Pa., set Maryland records for passing yardage and touchdowns last season, but struggled at the start of this year, creating an opportunity for Foley.
"It was extremely frustrating," Milanovich said of the last month. "It was probably the toughest thing I've ever been through. I went from being on top to having everything I ever dreamed about being taken away from me. It was probably the toughest thing I've ever been through. I learned how to be a man, how to take adversity.
"I don't think my confidence level ever dropped, and I think maybe I got the confidence of the coaches back today. I was happy they stayed with me."
Milanovich completed 22 of 33 passes yesterday, but the 169 yards were Maryland's lowest passing total in several seasons. He completed 10 of 11 in the first half, and the only incompletion was a drop. Milanovich didn't throw a bad pass until the fourth quarter. He was sacked three times in the fourth quarter, and all day the Tar Heels were determined to deny him the kind of day he had last year in a 59-42 North Carolina win.
"We had so much success throwing the ball downfield last year [against North Carolina], but they took that away today," Milanovich said. "They were in a nickel package [five defensive backs] the entire game, and that's the reason we were able to run between the 20s."
Maryland had more yards rushing, 180, than passing, as Allen Williams and redshirt freshman Brian Underwood each had his moment, and inside receiver Geroy Simon carried four times on reverses or laterals for 40 yards.
Underwood's 34-yard run set up a 22-yard field goal by Joe O'Donnell in the first quarter. It made O'Donnell 6-for-6 on the season, but he had a 25-yarder blocked in the second quarter.
"It was a high snap, I had to hesitate and that threw my timing off," O'Donnell said. "I just didn't get it up high enough and quick enough."
Neither team committed a turnover. . . . Wide receiver Jermaine Lewis, playing for the first time since he dislocated a shoulder against Wake Forest Sept. 24, was limited to one catch, an outside screen that went for six yards. Lewis burned the Tar Heels for nine catches, 250 yards and two touchdowns last year. . . . Jason Stanicek, the top rushing quarterback in the Atlantic Coast Conference, extended his North Carolina records for yards passing (4,357); completions (339 ); attempts (567); and touchdowns (24). His record as a starter is 23-7; Milanovich dipped to 2-12 in games he has started and finished.