A brief report from the Maryland football team’s annual spring game, beneath the lights at Byrd Stadium on Friday night. The Terrapins began with individual workouts, moved to seven-on-sevens and concluded with a point-based scrimmage, which pitted the offense against the defense.
The initial score, cobbled together from old practices and scrimmages this spring, had the defense ahead 70-58. Points were awarded for touchdowns (six for either side), conversions and returned conversions (one or two points for either side), field goals (three for the offense), turnovers (six for the defense), first downs (three for the offense), runs of 15 yards or more (two), passes of 20 yards or more (two), blocked field goal (three), sack or tackle for a loss (two) and a stopped drive (two).
Sufficiently confused? Good. Here’s what happened when everything got underway, before an announced crowd of 8,319:
Injured and out: S Milan Collins (toe), LB Jermaine Carter (meniscus), WR Dustin Dailey (concussion), DL Nate Clarke (knee).
Yellow jerseys: Quarterbacks (C.J. Brown, Caleb Rowe, Shane Cockerille, Perry Hills).
Limited: WR Deon Long (leg), WR Stefon Diggs (leg), S Anthony Nixon (bone bruise), LB Cole Farrand (shoulder), CB Jarrett Ross (labrum), CB Jeremiah Johnson (toe), DL Ty Tucker (ACL), LB Yannik Cudjoe-Virgil (shoulder), LB Alex Twine (labrum), DL Kingsley Opara (shoulder), LB Matt Robinson (arm), OL Derwin Gray (shoulder), S Elvis Dennah (toe), LB Jalen Brooks (concussion).
Disciplinary issues: Nothing new. LB Abner Logan still suspended for the semester for violating team rules.
The players labeled as “limited” all participated in warm-ups and individuals drills but sat out the scrimmages as a precautionary measure.
During the second quarter, cornerback Undray Clark went down after colliding with Jacquille Veii on a hard tackle. He got clocked hard in the helmet and fell back down on the ground, requiring trainer attention before walking off the field under his own power.
“He just had a stinger,” Coach Randy Edsall said later.
No other noticeable injuries occurred, though the defense was short 13 players.
>> First off, everything that happened Friday night should be couched by the absence of Long and Diggs, both of whom are expected to be back by summer programs on June 1. Marcus Leak, the anticipated No. 3 starting receiver, was also held out from the scrimmage thanks to a tweaked hamstring. So quarterback C.J. Brown, who ran every other series with the first-team offense, played without his top three targets.
That said, the offense had a field day on the scoreboard, taking the victorious meal of steak and lobster with a 187-143 victory before a crowd that thinned thanks to the rain. Brown lofted a touchdown pass to fullback Kenneth Goins on a play-action route from the backfield and scampered in from 10 yards with 24 seconds left before halftime.
>> Running back Brandon Ross emerged as the star performer, rushing for two touchdowns and finishing with 90 yards on only four carries. He worked mostly with the second team, while Jacquille Veii (nine carries, 75 yards) and Albert Reid (14 carries, 79 yards) worked with the first team.
Veii ripped off a 61-yard run in the fourth quarter but got chased down by safety Zach Dancel in the red zone and also took an early screen pass 19 yards, dancing around the defense and showing the shiftiness that has elevated him into a starting spot this spring.
>> Defensive back A.J. Hendy conjured memories of his two-interception day against West Virginia last September with a 55-yard interception return, jumping a deep route off third-string quarterback Perry Hills. Brown also threw interceptions to Alvin Hill and Likely (again). Hills and Rowe nearly had one more apiece.
“I didn’t think C.J. played well tonight,” Edsall said. “I thought he was very inconsistent. It’s my fault. I should have put these guys in white jerseys and made them live, then they’d play with more of a sense of urgency. C.J.’s got to understand, he’s got to use his legs. When things open up, he’s got to take off and run. He sits there in the pocket when he’s got a yellow jersey on and doesn’t get things done the way he needs to do as a quarterback. That’s on me.”
>> Later, Brown was asked about the yellow jersey issue, which also proved problematic at the team’s open scrimmage at North Point High School.
“With the yellow jersey I’m hesitant,” he said. “I know I’m going to get tagged off if they’re a foot away from me. It would’ve made it easy and it would’ve opene dup the playbook. There’s a lot of plays that are left on the field just because they come up near you, but because you’ve got the yellow on they’re going to blow it dead. It is what it is. It’s in the past now.”
>> As a heavy downpour began in the second half, the sloppiness emerged. Brown fumbled a handoff to Veii, which defensive lineman Andre Monroe recovered. On the next possession, Rowe botched an option pass under heavy pressure, and ended up throwing it over the head of Ross, who had to bat it out of bounds.
>> Backup kicker Adam Greene nailed a 35-yard field goal but finished short on a 54-yarder. Starter Brad Craddock hit a 30-yarder at the final buzzer. Neither kicker missed an extra point.
>> Punter Nathan Renfro, who has been called out by Coach Randy Edsall for his inconsistencies this spring, booted six times for 211 (35.2 average) yards. One was downed inside the 5-yard line, though another one should have, but a Terps player let it squeak through his legs.
>> Linebacker Clarence Murphy had two sacks. Monroe had one.
>> The first-team offense lined up with the following personnel:
Wide receiver: Nigel King, Levern Jacobs and Taivon Jacobs.
Tight end: Andrew Isaacs.
Running back: Jacquille Veii.
Offensive line: Michael Dunn (right tackle), Andrew Zeller (right guard), Sal Conaboy (center), Evan Mulrooney (left guard), Moise Larose (left tackle).
The first-team defense appeared as follows:
Defensive line: Darius Kilgo, Quinton Jefferson, Andre Monroe.
Linebackers: Cavon Walker (Sam), Yannick Ngakoue (Will), Brock Dean and L.A. Goree.
Secondary: Zach Dancel (safety), Sean Davis (safety), Will Likely (cornerback), Alvin Hill (cornerback).
>> During warm-ups, Cockerille took snaps with Joe Marchese, the third-string center, while Hills worked with Mulrooney, now a left guard who will evidently serve in an emergency center capacity.
>> Rising redshirt freshman Chandler Burkett, listed as a defensive lineman, worked out with the linebackers.
The Terps now break for the summer and return in August for preseason camp.
“We got the things done we wanted to get done this spring,” Edsall said. “Pleased with that. When you get into these situations, what you’re looking for is those guys who can make plays. The great thing about the spring is, we got a chance to evaluate. Guys who don’t make the plays will be the guys standing on the sidelines.
“If you can’t be consistent, you can’t catch the ball, you can’t sustain blocks, you can’t make tackles when you have to make them…that’s what spring’s for. It’s a chance to evaluate your roster, a chance to find out who are the guys you know that are going to go into the fall camp who you can really count on, then know where you have to plug some freshmen in. From that standpoint, it was very good. I just wasn’t happy with the consistency that was out here tonight.”