COLLEGE PARK -- Coach Mark Duffner has the same message for Scott Milanovich as he does for every player at Maryland.
"I told Scott just to relax and to play," said Duffner, who is dealing with a terrible offensive slump and three losses in the Terps' last four games. "I told the whole team that. People are trying to do more than what we've asked them to do. We've been pressing."
Milanovich will get his third start of the season at North Carolina State (2-5, 1-3) on Saturday, where Maryland (5-3, 3-2) can revive its shrinking bowl chances. He replaces Brian Cummings, who got the Terps to 4-0, gave way to Milanovich in the next two games, but started in consecutive shutout losses to Clemson and Louisville.
"It's the coach's decision, and I can't blame him," Cummings said. "In eight quarters, we haven't scored."
Blair had stroke
A battery of tests has determined that Joe F. Blair, Maryland's football publicist emeritus, had a stroke on the team's flight to Louisville last Friday. Blair, 72, remains hospitalized in Louisville, and when he is able, he'll be moved to Pittsburgh to recuperate with family members, who joined him Monday.
"Joe is in stable but guarded condition," said Herb Hartnett, a Maryland spokesman. "There's some weakness on the left side of his body and some confusion on Joe's part, but he did ask if everything was set up for our weekly press luncheon. He's having difficulty swallowing, and there's some evidence of a small heart muscle injury during the stroke."
Blair is not receiving telephone calls, but mail can be sent to him at Room 2218, Audubon Regional Medical Center, No. 1 Audubon Plaza Drive, Louisville, Ky. 40217.
Johnnie Johnson suspended
Duffner suspended reserve cornerback Johnnie Johnson for the N.C. State game for leaving the Maryland bench to join the fight that got Johnson's brother A. J. ejected at Louisville.
"That's our decision," said Duffner, who originally suspended Johnnie Johnson for only one half. "Anyone that sees it on film can make their decision, but I don't know if the ACC has seen the play."
NCAA rules specify that A. J. Johnson miss the first half of the N.C. State game, and red-shirt freshman Paul Jackson will start in his place. With cornerback depth down, Orlando Strozier is practicing there for the first time this season. He led the Terps in interceptions two years ago, was the second-team quarterback during Milanovich's suspension and has been practicing at receiver since the latter's return.
Rhodes not so ready
With junior Joe O'Donnell out for at least another week with a lingering thigh injury, all of the kicking is being done by red-shirt freshman Brad Rhodes. With a strong wind at his back at Louisville, Rhodes missed a 49-yarder in the first quarter and a 26-yarder in the third, which would have created a 3-3 tie.
Rhodes didn't make any excuses, but it's hard for a kicker to keep warm when he never kicks off. The offensive drought has meant that he's kicked off just five times in the last three games.
The Virginia game Nov. 11, Maryland's last at Byrd Stadium, has been moved to a noon start. It will be televised by Jefferson-Pilot. . . . Cummings hasn't practiced this week because of a bruised right shoulder. . . . Junior end Al Wallace, who had both Terp sacks in the 31-0 loss to Louisville, was chosen by the coaches as Defensive Player of the Week. They didn't consider anyone on offense or special teams worthy of being honored. . . . Like Louisville, N.C. State has had an extra week to prepare for the Terps.