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Picture looks grim, but Thompson smiling


COLLEGE PARK - Maryland junior outside linebacker Aaron Thompson always seems to have a knack for saying the right words to get his teammates ready to play a football game.

Even if the opponent is the Florida State Seminoles (4-0), the defending national champions, who will invade Byrd Stadium tomorrow night to meet the Terps (2-1) in the ESPN Thursday night game of the week at 8.

"They're a great team," said Thompson yesterday. "But life is about change. Even the Berlin Wall fell. We just want a piece of history."

Baltimore's Thompson was asked what kind of victory lap he and teammates would take tomorrow night if they pulled off the seemingly impossible by upsetting the No. 2 team in the nation.

Maryland couldn't take a normal victory lap since it has already taken that route after home wins over Temple and Middle Tennessee this season.

"The victory laps would be in the direction of the goalposts," said Thompson with a wide grin.

Barnard slips to No. 2

Sophomore punter Brooks Barnard was shaking his head Monday as he headed out to practice to begin working on regaining the touch that made him the top kicker in the country for two weeks before he fell to No. 2 this week with a 45.8-yard average.

"It was just one of those games," said Barnard of his surprising problems Saturday night against Middle Tennessee in a 45-27 victory. "I don't know what was wrong, but I can't let it happen again. I have to get better right away."

Barnard lost his No. 1 status in the nation with two poor kicks of 32 and 27 yards against the Blue Raiders.

The former Broadneck standout entered the third game of the season with a 49.4 average, good enough for No. 1, even though he had dropped from a school-record, single-game performance of 53.8 in the season opener against Temple.

People around Maryland are still talking about Barnard's 85-yard missile against Temple that was the longest Terps' punt in 44 years and nearly broke the school record of 88 yards that was set by John Fritsch against Miami in 1956.

Vanderlinden wants rain

Coach Ron Vanderlinden has been searching all week for any edge he can find for his 26 1/2 -point underdog Terps against the powerful Seminoles.

"I'd have to think it would help us if it rained," said Vanderlinden. "That would seem to be a given with all the talent they have at every position. There has never been a team in the history of college football that has been ranked in the top four [Associated Press poll] for 13 straight years."

But it doesn't appear Vanderlinden's wishes will be granted. After an all-day downpour in College Park Monday and light rain most of the day here yesterday, the forecast is for warmer weather and no rain today and tomorrow.

McCall geared up

Sophomore quarterback Calvin McCall knows all about Florida State's ferocious reputation on defense and its record of laying big hits on quarterbacks.

"Hey, I stood on the sideline down there [Tallahassee] last year and watched them come after Latrez Harrison and Trey Evans," said McCall, who missed that game with a knee injury.

"I saw them put Latrez out of the game and I know they're going to try to get me. But they're going to have to break my leg to get me out of this game."

McCall is playing with a lot of confidence after throwing for 357 yards and two touchdowns against Middle Tennessee and 215 yards against West Virginia. But now the true test comes against a school that once offered McCall a scholarship to play free safety.

"I wanted to be a quarterback and I wanted to get away from the area," said McCall who starred in football and basketball at Dr. Phillips High in Orlando.

Next for Maryland

Opponent: No. 2 Florida State

Site: Byrd Stadium, College Park

When: Tomorrow, 8 p.m.


Series: Florida State leads 10-0

Line: Florida State by 28

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