COLLEGE PARK -- Just once before he leaves West Virginia, Aaron Beasley wants to see the Mountaineers shut down the run-and-shoot.
Beasley, a senior cornerback, is the Mountaineers' best player, and one of the reasons they're slight favorites to beat resurgent Maryland (2-0) at Byrd Stadium tonight at 7. To win, West Virginia (1-1) will have to slow the Terps' offense, something it has been unable to do since coach Mark Duffner came to College Park with the run-and-shoot.
"That offense just puts a lot of pressure on linebackers," Beasley said. "They're used to stopping the run, and now they've got other things to worry about. My major concern is the outside receivers. I know a lot about Jermaine Lewis and Mancel Johnson, but it's pretty clear their quarterbacks have done a good job."
* In 1992, Maryland totaled 435 yards and 33 points under John Kaleo.
* In 1993, Scott Milanovich guided the Terps to 558 yards and 37 points.
* In 1994, Kevin Foley relieved a struggling Milanovich and directed the offense to 491 yards in a 24-13 victory that ended a three-game losing streak to the Mountaineers.
Named to a dozen preseason All-America teams, Beasley made the acquaintance of Milanovich -- who is in the third week of a four-game gambling suspension -- at a photo shoot for the Playboy All-America team in Arizona.
"I feel bad for Scott," Beasley said. "I'd like to play against him. We had a great time together in Arizona. I got to know a lot of great players. We weren't even talking football out there."
If they had, Beasley would have invited Milanovich to throw the ball his way, and risk being added to the list of his interception victims.
Even West Virginia publications describe Beasley as flamboyant. Terps fans will remember his cousin Mike, a flashy running back who feuded with Joe Krivak and transferred from Maryland to West Virginia in 1989.
Said Aaron Beasley: "It is a game, isn't it? I know everyone tells us that football's a job, but I'm here to have fun."
His greatest enjoyment came in 1993, when the Mountaineers went 11-0 before being routed by Florida in the Sugar Bowl. The loss to Maryland last year was at the core of a disturbing 1-4 start, but West Virginia won six of its last seven to earn a berth in the Carquest Bowl.
With Miami down, the Mountaineers should be contenders in a wide-open Big East race, despite an assortment of troubles.
The NCAA ordered defensive tackle John Browning to sit out three games after he signed with an agent while contemplating the NFL draft. Mike Logan, the corner opposite Beasley, is out at least five more weeks with a broken arm. Tailback Robert Walker, who has burned the Terps for 284 yards the past two years, has a sprained ankle.
The West Virginia offense has accounted for 1,006 yards in two games, but Bryan Baumann missed a chip-shot field goal in the closing moments that would have beaten Purdue, and the Mountaineers struggled to a 24-13 win over Temple. Down 17-7, the Owls had first-and-goal with five minutes left, but Beasley stepped in to make his 15th career interception.
He's still waiting for his first theft against Maryland, and for the Mountaineers to shut down the run-and-shoot.