COLLEGE PARK -- Orlando Strozier is a theater major at Maryland, but he'll have to pass on a part in an on-campus production of "Hair" this fall to concentrate on another role -- starting quarterback for the university's football team.
Strozier is listed as No. 1 for Saturday afternoon's Atlantic Coast Conference game against North Carolina, an assignment he'll hold on to if Brian Cummings' sprained left ankle doesn't respond sufficiently for him to play.
Cummings was injured at the end of the first quarter in a season-opening 29-10 victory at Tulane. Strozier, the understudy who was converted from defensive back last spring, guided the Terps to two fourth-quarter touchdowns, and his crash course at quarterback continues.
"I've been up late just about every night studying the playbook," said Strozier, who was asked which is harder, acting or playing football. "In football, I have on a helmet. In theater, all there is is the makeup."
With two redshirt freshmen and two other new starters on the offensive line, the safety of the Terps' quarterbacks is an issue. The mobility of Cummings and Strozier in comparison with pocket passer Scott Milanovich, a two-year starter who's serving a four-game suspension for gambling, could be a plus.
"We've got a young offensive line, and the longer they have to hold blocks, the harder it is on them," coach Mark Duffner said.
Cummings hopes to be back Saturday.
"I'll be able to play, and I think I'll be able to start," said Cummings, who completed 10 straight passes at Tulane. "I'm getting a lot of treatment from the trainers, and they're going to try to jog me today. We'll work on getting the range of motion back. I know one thing: I've never taped my ankles, but I will from now on."
There are other new items on the quarterbacks' checklist. Strozier didn't commit any turnovers, but he has to do a better job protecting the ball when he sprints out. There figures to be additional work in practice for Trey Evans, a freshman from
Austin, Texas, who is the No. 3 quarterback until Milanovich returns.
That's what Strozier will probably be by month's end, but there was a positive omen for Maryland in North Carolina's 20-9 upset loss to Syracuse. The Orangemen's quarterback was Donovan McNabb, a redshirt freshman who was listed as the third-teamer heading into the game.
NOTES: Jermaine Lewis, who needs eight catches to become Maryland's all-time leader in receptions, will start at outside receiver after serving a one-game gambling suspension. . . . Left guard Pat Ward, defensive end Eric Hicks and strong safety Darrick Rather left the Tulane game with injuries, but all are listed as starters against North Carolina. . . . After Cummings went down, Strozier didn't return any more punts. That duty fell to cornerback Andreal Johnson, who took a vicious hit from Corey Prout in the second quarter. Special teams coach Dave Ungerer, who said Prout should have been ejected, directed comments toward Tulane as the teams were leaving the Superdome field for halftime, and got a 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct.