Terps' Vanderlinden thinking defense New coach reviews error, weighs team's potential

THE BALTIMORE SUN

ASHEVILLE, N.C. -- Meeting the Atlantic Coast Conference vTC media for the first time yesterday, new Maryland football Ron Vanderlinden reviewed his role in the improbable rebuilding jobs at Colorado and Northwestern and candidly discussed a rare failure.

The occasion was the ACC Football Kickoff, new territory for a coach more familiar with the Big 12 and Big Ten. Vanderlinden did work against one ACC team last year, but that experience was a disaster, as Northwestern lost to lowly Wake Forest.

"Not to take anything away from their effort," Vanderlinden said, "but I screwed that game up. As the defensive coordinator, I made some errors that cost us that game. We had a lot of new players on defense, and I was way too fancy and complicated."

If Maryland is going to improve on last year's 5-6 record, it will be behind its defense, where Vanderlinden will stack up his front seven against any in the conference.

But he does have some reservations about the secondary, which lost four starters, including cornerback Chad Scott, who went in the first round of the NFL draft.

"When your outfielders are new, when the ball gets by them, it's going to roll to the wall," Vanderlinden said.

The concerns are even greater on offense, where Maryland was 103rd in Division I-A in yards gained last season. There's another new scheme -- the Terps' third in four seasons -- and the first two conference games are against Florida State and North Carolina, which figure to be the class of the ACC.

Vanderlinden, however, minced no words about the Terps' goals.

"I'll be disappointed if Maryland doesn't go to a bowl game," he said, "but I don't feel any external pressure."

The new coach talked about his recruiting philosophy.

"I recruit performance," Vanderlinden said. "If they look like Tarzan and play like Jane, I don't want them."

His only gaffe involved ACC geography.

"There's so much we [Maryland] have to offer," Vanderlinden said, continuing his recruiting spiel. "We're in the fourth-largest media center in the country. The rest of the schools [in the ACC] are tucked away."

Vanderlinden obviously forgot about Georgia Tech, located in Atlanta amidst former Olympic venues and CNN headquarters.

Changes, changes

Three practices a day in August, a new helmet design and greater academic demands are among the changes made by Vanderlinden.

Quarterback Brian Cummings was Maryland's player representative at the ACC Kickoff. He was among the veterans who had to start from scratch in spring practice, but Cummings said that the biggest shakeup instituted by Vanderlinden came off the field with a mandatory summer study hall.

"He is not playing around," Cummings said of the new coach. "If you don't have a 2.5 GPA, you're going to summer school, and you're going to study hall."

Vanderlinden said that any player who needed to attend summer sessions was required to spend 10-13 hours a week in study hall. Players whose academic eligibility is in doubt when practice opens Aug. 16 will miss the Sept. 6 opener against Ohio University.

"A few players are waiting for some grades to officially be put in the computer, but they're OK," Vanderlinden said. "Other than that, Rasheed Simmons is the only player I'm worried about, but he's doing well in summer school."

Simmons, a Parade All-America defensive end from New Jersey, left Michigan after one season and transferred to Maryland last fall.

Freshmen will report Aug. 11 and veterans Aug. 14. When practice opens two days later, it will be in the form of three-a-days, with a 50-minute session on individual fundamentals each day at 9 a.m.; a 75-minute, small-group session at 11: 15 a.m., and a 90-minute, scrimmage-type practice at 5 p.m.

The new helmet design incorporates the Maryland flag and a sleeker "M."

Xanthos leaving

Vince Xanthos, who was expected to help Maryland's offensive line over the next three seasons, has been granted his release by Vanderlinden.

Xanthos, 6 feet 4, 295 pounds, told the coach that he wanted to transfer to a school closer to his parents' home in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., or to Brigham Young, where two of his brothers played.

ACC television deals

The Atlantic Coast Conference has given ESPN exclusive rights to televise 100 football games from 1998 to 2005. The conference also extended its national broadcast network agreement with ABC Sports for the same period of time. The agreement with ESPN includes 10 games per season in 1998, 1999 and 2000 and 14 games per season from 2001 to 2005.

ACC poll

Maryland was picked to finish sixth in the ACC in preseason media balloting (first-place votes in parentheses):

No. .. ...School .. .. .. .. .. .. Points

1. .. .. .Florida State (45) .. .. ...565

2. .. . ..North Carolina .. .. .. .. .536

3. .. .. .Clemson .. .. .. .. .. .. ..449

4. .. .. .Virginia .. .. .. .. .. . ..372

5. .. .. .Georgia Tech .. .. .. .. ...339

6. .. .. .Maryland .. .. .. .. .. .. .216

7. .. .. .N.C. State .. .. .. .. .. ..214

8. .. .. .Wake Forest .. .. .. .. .. .138

9. .. .. .Duke .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ...96

Pub Date: 7/29/97

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