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With Maryland's fast start, Duke takes cautious stance Blue Devils don't expect repeat of easy '94 win


Last season, the Maryland game was a cakewalk for a surprising Duke team that launched its drive toward the Hall of Fame Bowl.

The Blue Devils dominated the 1994 opener in Durham, N.C., handing Maryland a 49-16 whipping and scoring their highest point total in four years.

Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year Robert Baldwin rushed for a school-record 238 yards and equaled the school record with four touchdowns on the ground.

It doesn't figure to be that easy tomorrow night at Byrd Stadium, and Duke knows it.

"You can draw a lot of similarities between them now and us last year," said Blue Devils quarterback Spence Fischer. "Obviously, Maryland is off to a pretty good start.

"Plus, they've added on to their stadium and they're expecting a big crowd. It should be a lot more excited atmosphere there."

Duke went 7-0 at the start of last season and rose to as high as 13th in one of the national polls. The Terps are 3-0 and ranked 24th.

"They're playing like winners," added Duke coach Fred Goldsmith. "And it's not an overnight thing. If you look back to the latter part of last year, Maryland's success was beginning to evolve then.

"It's a far better team than we played in the opening game. We know we've got our work cut out for us."

Fischer is the sixth most prolific passer in ACC history and needs only 149 yards to advance to fourth place. He has guided the Blue Devils to a 2-1 record with victories over Rutgers and Army after an expected opening-game rout by No. 1 Florida State (70-26).

Fischer threw for an ACC season high 372 yards last week in a 23-21 victory over Army that Duke secured on a field goal with four seconds left.

With Baldwin gone, the 6-foot-4, 220-pound senior from Atlanta is the Blue Devils' biggest offensive weapon. But he will be looking into the face of a Terps defense that has forced a national-best 15 turnovers.

"Hopefully, we can establish some running again," said Fischer, who has Duke rated 15th nationally in passing. "We have a pretty good back in [sophomore] Marshall Laymarr. His numbers aren't as good as Rob's yet, but our running game is coming along. We need it for the offense to work."

The Blue Devils' defense has been soft so far (last in the ACC), so Fischer is going to have to have the offense clicking to win.

"We're in good position right now, 2-1 and yet to play a complete game," he said. "The Army game really helped because we had been struggling a bit to get into the end zone. We know Maryland will be geared up and expects to win. But we expect to win, too."

Goldsmith sees containing Maryland's top runner, Buddy Rodgers, as a major priority.

"Rodgers is the guy that is so impressive," said the coach. "Maryland is now much more geared to running than they were when we saw the films of 1993. They've put a lot of time into it and Rogers' talent is a plus."

The Terrapins' start has been so eye-opening to Goldsmith that he "ranked them higher than they are in the polls. I'm not saying where, but it was higher."

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