In the Maryland football team’s struggle to solidify a reliable place kicker, Brad Craddock appears to have won back the short-range job that got lost among a flurry of wide-lefts and football clanging off goal posts.
The true freshman from Australia attempted the extra point on the Terps’ lone touchdown during Saturday’s 45-10 loss at Clemson in the second quarter and drilled a 39-yarder with 3:24 left in the third quarter. Craddock had struggled with inconsistency earlier this season, causing Maryland to defer to walk-on Brendan Magistro for extra points and field goals of less than 40 yards.
But Coach Randy Edsall said that an “outstanding” week of practice for Craddock, coupled with the struggles Magistro endured after hitting all three extra-point attempts against Boston College and Georgia Tech as well as a 28-yard field goal vs. the Eagles, caused Maryland to return to Craddock.
“Every week since he had his problems early, I’ve had he and Brandon kicking against each other during the week,” Edsall said. “Last week, Brandon wasn’t very good and Brad was outstanding during practice. He went out there and performed. What he did on Saturday, that’s what we expect every time he goes out there to kick.”
Craddock’s issues – he’s just 9 of 15 on field goal attempts this season and 5 of 9 on kicks of less than 40 yards – stemmed from a fluctuating approach to the football, which at times was either too short, too long or too rushed.
“I think he understands what he did wrong, the mechanics and technique, didn’t allow him to kick as well as he would have liked to,” Edsall said. “He’s been practicing and working, hasn’t gotten down on himself. We haven’t lost any faith in him.”
Edsall also declared the starting punter’s job fair game, holding a week-long competition between Craddock and Nathan Renfro. The two freshmen battled during the preseason, but Renfro won out and appeared to justify Edsall’s decision after leading the nation in punting following Maryland’s season-opening win over William & Mary.
But Renfro has regressed since then, and the Terps’ net punting average now ranks 118th nationally. Renfro is averaging 39.7 yards per punt this season, and hasn’t averaged more than 41 yards per punt in a single game since the West Virginia game on Sept. 22.
>> No update yet on Stefon Diggs and Wes Brown, both of whom missed the Clemson game with ankle injuries suffered against Georgia Tech. Reading into Edsall’s usual deference to Thursday’s injury report, however, might provide some insight.
“I really don’t know about Stefon or Wes until later in the week,” Edsall said. “We’ll see how they practice or if they practice during the week. Again, Thursday, we’ll have the update. I’m hopeful that Wes and Stefon will be able to play.”
The “if” is the interesting part. The Terps had Monday off, but it wouldn’t be shocking if neither Diggs nor Brown practiced Sunday, and Maryland was holding out until Tuesday’s practice to see if they were ready to go. The Terps will certainly miss their leading receiver and rusher, but if these injuries are severe enough to sideline the Good Counsel products again this week, could they just be shut down for the North Carolina game to prevent future problems?