A brief rundown of what happened at the Maryland football team’s latest spring practice.
Date: March 10.
Practice number: 5.
Duration: Roughly two and a half hours, spanning 23 five-minute periods.
Location: Byrd Stadium.
Dress code: Full pads.
Injured and out: LB Alex Twine (labrum), CB Jarrett Ross (labrum), DL Kingsley Opara (labrum), DL Ty Tucker (ACL), WR Deon Long (broken leg), WR Stefon Diggs (broken leg), LB Yannik Cudjoe-Virgil (pectoralis), S Elvis Dennah (toe), S Milan Collins (toe), OL Derwin Gray (shoulder).
Yellow jerseys: None.
Limited: CB Jeremiah Johnson (toe), WR DeAndre Lane (hamstring), LB Matt Robinson (arm), RB Zimuzo Nwaigwe (unknown).
Disciplinary issues: None.
>> Saturday’s practiced left Coach Randy Edsall displeased, but he was in a better mood after the fifth one, which began at 8:30 Monday morning.
“I thought we competed a lot better today,’ he said. “I was pleased with how they came out and approached this morning. I thought they competed for the entire time. I thought the execution on both sides was better today. We weren’t as inconsistent today as we were on Saturday. We were better, but we still got things we’ve got to do to work on.”
>> Jermaine Carter Jr. had an interception off a tipped pass from co-backup quarterback Caleb Rowe, while linebacker Abner Logan intercepted a poor read from fellow co-backup Perry Hills. The consistency of the backup quarterbacks behind starter C.J. Brown has been an issue.
“One period, two periods, part of the practice, one guy is really doing well, the other guy is not,” Edsall said. “That’s why you see those guys alternating and doing those things. We’re looking for somebody to be able to step up and take the bull by the horns. We’ll wait until the end of 15 days to make those determinations.”
Defensive back J.T. Ventura also intercepted a deep pass from third-string quarterback Shane Cockerille.
>> Wide receiver Marcus Leak had a solid day. He ran a perfect red-zone route for a comeback touchdown reception and caught a big gain from Cockerille during two-minute drills. The two connected again for a long touchdown past the third-string secondary during team drills to close practice.
During red-zone work, cornerback Alvin Hill – another standout through five practices – broke up a fade route by Leak and then beat him on the next play.
“It was good to see Marcus back out here today, running,” Edsall said. “You can see he’s got that ability, and he’s got to build on it.”
We’ll have more on Leak’s journey back to Maryland from personal leave soon.
>> Linebacker Cavon Walker stripped receiver Daniel Adams on a crossing route during a full-field, two-minute drill and returned the fumble for a touchdown. That ended Hills’s opportunity under center after the first play.
“Cavon’s still learning,” Edsall said. “He’s one of those guys I’m talking about in terms of consistency. You can see he’s not comfortable yet with anything, because he wants to show everything he’s doing rather than disguising. That comes with a young player. Cavon’s just going to need more repetitions. That’s a good thing. He’s got to be a lot more consistent than what he’s showed so far.”
Earlier in that drill, the starters went 90 yards in 1:50 behind Brown, who finished it off with a touchdown to wide receiver Nigel King, hitting him in stride. Cockerille’s group then stalled, as he overthrew redshirt freshman Taivon Jacobs on fourth down.
>> Jacobs, meantime, continues to impress with his speed, outrunning the secondary on several occasions, but drew rebuke from position coach Keenan McCardell for too much lateral dancing when he should have tried to plow upfield. The brother of junior receiver Levern Jacobs, Taivon also dropped a sure touchdown from Cockerille after sprinting past two defenders. His hands have otherwise been solid, though Edsall said other receivers have struggled with drops recently.
“That’s the stuff that we’ve got to continue to work on, they’ve got to continue to concentrate on all throughout practice,” Edsall said. “There’s going to be ability … the guys who are going to be on the field are the guys who can make the plays down after down after down, in the run game and in the pass game in terms of blocking and catching. That’s the biggest thing that we’re evaluating with all these guys … They’ve made progress and they’ll continue to make progress, but we’ve just got to get a lot more consistent.”
It’s an interesting position for fringe-rotation receivers such as Malcolm Culmer and Amba Etta-Tawo, two players who got experience last season when injuries decimated the position, but for whom playing time might be limited once those Stefon Diggs and Deon Long return this summer. Spring practices, then, represent a chance for them to impress before the corps becomes even more loaded.
>> Linebacker Matt Robinson was again held out because of an arm injury, spending practice conditioning on the sidelines. In his stead, Edsall singled out redshirt freshman Jalen Brooks.
>> Wide receiver DeAndre Lane, who has been battling hamstring issues, caught some passes during positional work, but later returned to individual conditioning during team drills.
>> Jacquille Veii, Taivon Jacobs and Will Likely all returned some kicks.
>> Fullback Andrew Stefanelli, a sophomore from Good Counsel, made two massive blocks that drew from excitement from his offensive teammates.
The next open practice will be Wednesday at 9 a.m. I’ll be down in Greensboro covering the ACC men’s basketball tournament, though.