So weight lifting has become at Maryland, at least in the mind, a matter of self-preservation. But it doesn't guarantee survival. A week before this year's opening game, Quarterback Larry Dick, who had started and played most of the Gator Bowl before missing spring practice for a knee operation, was tackled in a scrimmage and fell on his right elbow. He arose with an ailment that is known to millions as "tennis elbow" and has not played so far this year.
That left the quarterback job open for Mark Manges (pronounced man-guess), who was the starter at the beginning of the 1975 season, got hurt and lost his position to Dick. The two of them spent most of last year replacing each other and were running even this fall until Dick's right arm went lame.
"Mark has been outstanding since then," Claiborne says. "He's a little bigger [6'3", 220] and stronger than Larry. They're both good throwers and good leaders. When Larry gets well, we'll have two fine quarterbacks again."
Manges finds that kind of talk disconcerting, but it is typical of his coach, whom the Terps refer to as "The Bone" because he is such a hard, demanding man. Manges is something else—casual and headstrong. He dislikes the way he and Dick are shuffled. "I came here with a lot of confidence," he says. "I've been first-string ever since I played football. So has Larry. So we don't joke about this. My confidence suffers if I don't know whether I'm starting or not."
With Dick's right-arm in a sling, there was no question about it last Saturday as Maryland took its now lofty position—eighth in the nation, first time in the Top 10 in 20 years—up to Syracuse as an 18-point favorite. Syracuse had already lost to Bowling Green and Iowa, and Coach Frank Maloney had described his team as playing "some of the worst football in the country."
Sophomore Tailback Steve Atkins, a 6-foot 225-pounder who may become the best runner in Terp history before he is through, scored the first Maryland touchdown, taking the ball in from the one after a fumbled punt. Then Atkins' favorite blocker, the 215-pound Wilson, scored from the one and Maryland looked well on its way to another smashing victory. "I hope we are not going to take Syracuse too lightly," Manges had said. It appeared that would not be possible.
But Syracuse Quarterback Bill Hurley came back with a running show of his own to move the ball to the Maryland 16. Freshman Ron Farneski entered for one play and threw a touchdown pass. Playing with a strained right wrist, Atkins fumbled on the next series, and Hurley wriggled into the end zone from five yards out. Suddenly the score was 14-14.
Manges, facing a surprisingly tough Syracuse pass rush, found Vince Kinney for a 29-yard touchdown pass, and at halftime the Terps stood seven points up. Maryland did not score in the third quarter but managed two quick touchdowns in the fourth on an interception return by John Stanford and an 11-yard run by Atkins.
But Syracuse fought back, striking for two scores on runs by Bob Avery. With the score 35-28 and a little less than four minutes to play, Atkins, who has rushed for 517 yards in Maryland's first three games, tried a counter-play. Syracuse linemen grabbed for the ball, but Atkins pulled away and dashed 76 yards to put Maryland safely out front 42-28. In all, Atkins gained 215 yards on 29 carries, breaking the single-game school record.
Back at his home in Maryland that night, Claiborne paced nervously, picking things up and putting them down. He sleeps like a lumberjack the night before a game, but the night after he jangles and frets and sometimes must resort to sleeping pills. "We were not ready," he said. "Our minds were not right. We can't afford any more games like this."