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Changing Terps take to new offense Vanderlinden's multiple winning over players

COLLEGE PARK — COLLEGE PARK -- Another year, another offense.

That has been the way of life for Maryland players the past three years, going from the run-and-shoot to a ragged multiple offense and now to a new coach's version of the multiple offense.

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But several of the Terrapins said this year's playbook, which arrived with first-year coach Ron Vanderlinden, fits their needs.

"Changing offenses is pretty much the way of life here," said tailback Buddy Rodgers, who has trimmed his weight from 242 pounds last year to 220. "I don't know what we were in last year. I think it was a pop-gun offense. What I like now is that these coaches seem to have more faith in us. If we don't get it right the first time, we're going to run it again and again until we get it right."

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The new set will feature an H-back and stress more ball control. It's an idea that has even won over senior quarterback Brian Cummings, who has worked in the run-and-shoot since high school.

"Every offense is like a math equation," Cummings said. "Last year, it didn't equal out. But it's a balanced-out equation this year."

Injury front

Johnnie Hicks, a four-year starter at defensive tackle, is expected to return to practice next week after suffering a severely pinched nerve in Thursday's practice.

Hicks snapped his head backward during a seven-on-seven drill and lay motionless for 15 minutes. He was taken to Prince George's County Hospital and released later that day.

"I'm still a little stiff," Hicks said. "It was like I didn't have a left arm for about 10 minutes. I was really scared and then I felt a little feeling in my fingers when they put me on the stretcher."

The prognosis is a little less uncertain for starting offensive lineman Mitch Watkins, who was hospitalized for five days this week for a degenerative disk injury. Vanderlinden said Watkins will be evaluated week-to-week.

The Terps did see the return yesterday morning of sophomore running back Damone Boone, who practiced for the first time in a week. He has been suffering from an ear infection.

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Navy not on horizon

Maryland athletic director Debbie Yow again spoke of her strong intention of restarting an annual series with Navy, possibly at the Ravens' new downtown stadium. But a matchup of the state's only major-college teams doesn't appear to be on the horizon.

"It's a novel idea and an interesting situation," Yow said. "I've had that discussion with Jack [Lengyel, Navy athletic director] before, and he has no interest in playing us."

Yow said the refusal to play the Terps puzzles her because the Midshipmen have scheduled ACC members Duke, Georgia Tech and Wake Forest in recent years.

Miscellaneous

If Maryland beats Ohio in its season opener Sept. 6, Vanderlinden would become the first coach to start his Terrapins career with a win since Tom Nugent in 1959. Yow said she has turned down offers from promoters to move some of this year's home games away from Byrd Stadium. The most interesting offer was $1 million to shift the West Virginia game to France.

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Pub Date: 8/24/97


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