WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Terrence Suber had heard enough by halftime, and turned off the radio when it was 31-0. DaLawn Parrish was on Wake Forest's sideline, and had to watch every embarrassing minute one year ago.
Maryland meets Wake Forest today (1 p.m.) at Groves Stadium in an Atlantic Coast Conference game. It's a match between 2-4 teams trying to salvage their seasons, but the Demon Deacons are also out for revenge: The Terps pounded them last year 52-0, their most lopsided ACC win ever.
Then-coach Mark Duffner didn't run it up. Wake Forest was that bad. It ranked 107th in the nation in yards allowed, giving up 475.9 yards per game.
The Demon Deacons have chopped that figure to 334.8 yards, and if you want to understand how they've made more improvement on defense than any other team in major-college football, look no further than the return of Parrish and Suber to the secondary.
Parrish, a sophomore out of Howard High, is Wake Forest's strong safety. Suber, a post-graduate out of City, is the nickel back, and could get his second start at free safety. Both redshirted with injuries last year, when coach Jim Caldwell considered having four healthy players in the secondary an accomplishment.
A starter in 1994 and '95, Suber sat out last year, when he was slow to recover from shoulder surgery. So did Parrish, to recover from a stress fracture in his back the previous winter.
A 3-8 season bottomed out with the blowout at Byrd a year ago this weekend. Suber stayed in Winston-Salem, but Parrish traveled on his own to the game. The high point of his weekend was the visit with his mom in Columbia.
"Here I am, witnessing my team get thoroughly beaten in my home state," said Parrish, who was despondent enough to consider leaving Wake Forest. "I felt I might have made the wrong decision about coming here. I had had trouble with the academic demands. Then I took a long look in the mirror, and realized I had definitely made the right decision."
Parrish is close to Suber, his soft-spoken mentor. They've been friends since Suber was Parrish's host on his recruiting visit. Suber got his degree in history last June. Parrish's major? History. Suber will probably do some student-teaching next semester; Parrish said he wants to get his master's in education.
"If Terrence has been an influence on DaLawn, it's by example," said James Bell, the Wake Forest secondary coach who this year was made the defensive coordinator. "Just the way Terrence carries himself, that rubs off on people. The fact that they've roomed together on the road ever since I've been here might have something to do with it, too."
Generously listed at 5-feet-10, 180 pounds, Suber will do whatever he can to be on a winning team before he leaves Wake Forest. The Sun's Player of the Year in 1992 as an option quarterback for City, he stepped right into the Demon Deacon secondary the next year, Caldwell's first as head coach.
In four seasons, Suber has participated in just three ACC wins. Wake Forest beat N.C. State, 19-18, in an emotional ESPN Thursday night game Sept. 25, but it wasted decent games by its defense in turnover-ridden losses to Virginia and North Carolina. Throughout the ACC, people are saying nice things about the Demon Deacons, but still beating them.
"We can see we've improved, but the comments we're hearing would be easier to accept if we were winning," Suber said. "Every game, we feel like we're about to bust out. But every game we play, we also know that people aren't going to respect us."
While the Demon Deacons get healthier, Maryland comes into today's game without one of its defensive leaders. Senior end Eric Ogbogu, who has four of the Terps' 10 sacks, sprained an ankle in last week's loss to West Virginia, and has not recovered enough to play.
Pub Date: 10/18/97