Let's put it in a nutshell: This is essentially the same gutsy, explosive team that trailed Miami 31-0 at the half last season before bouncing back to win 42-40 in the greatest comeback in major-college football history. And it wasn't a fluke. The Terps also spotted Tennessee 21 points in the Sun Bowl before rallying for a 28-27 victory. "We had to get into a rhythm and a flow of things," says coach-Bobby Ross, "and then we got clicking." In the process the Terps redefined the meaning of a balanced attack by rushing and passing for exactly the same number of yards (239 per game) over their last 10 games.
Maryland's varied arsenal starts with fullback Rick Badanjek. A 5'9", 217-pound fireplug, Badanjek has scored 37 TDs in his 36-game career. Last season he ran for 832 yards, caught 20 passes for 174 more and blocked like Mr. T on a nasty day. At tailback, Tommy Neal, a slashing power runner, alternates with Alvin Blount, a shifty, find-the-seam type. The quarterback will be senior Stan Gelbaugh, who threw for 1,123 yards in six games in '84 after Frank Reich, who was the Buffalo Bills' third-round draft choice, separated his shoulder.
The top pass catcher is sophomore flanker Azizuddin Abdur-Ra'oof, who hauled in 25 passes for a 17.5-yard average last fall. Ziz to his friends, Abdur-Ra'oof is from art American family that converted to Islam in 1975. His first name means growing in faith, and his surname means, roughly, one who is pious, safe and mild. Abdur-Ra'oof runs the 40 somewhere between 4.36 and 4.29. "All praise is due to God for that," says his mother, Shukriyyah, whose name means grateful and thankful.
The offensive line is known as the Beef Brothers—1,106 pounds and 13 years of blocking experience that make up the foundation of Maryland's point machine. The Brothers—tackles J.D. Maarleveld and Tony Edwards and guards Len Lynch and Jeff (the Russian Bear) Holinka—live with five refrigerators in a four-room suite. As for the defense, last season was the first time that most of this year's unit saw significant action. Nine regulars are back, including All-ACC guard Bruce Mesner and all-conference safety Al Covington.
The Terps open against Penn State, Boston College, West Virginia and Michigan. They finish with a November stretch—North Carolina, Miami, Clemson and Virginia—that looks almost as tough. However, on both ends the Terps will have the Beef where they need it.