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Maryland Coach Friedgen Says Quarterback Chris Turner, Safety Kenny Tate and Wide Receiver Adrian Cannon Have Been Outstanding in Camp

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By Eric Prisbell
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, August 21, 2009

Maryland Coach Ralph Friedgen this week pinpointed three players who have excelled thus far in preseason camp: quarterback Chris Turner, strong safety Kenny Tate and wide receiver Adrian Cannon.

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Friedgen has praised Turner throughout camp because the senior is taking more ownership of the offense and is playing like the veteran quarterback Friedgen had hoped he would become.

"He's done a great job of seeing things, setting the defense, using his cadence and making decisions," Friedgen said. "I'm really pleased with how he's playing."

No defensive player has impressed Friedgen more than Tate, a sophomore who moved to safety from wide receiver before last season. Tate (DeMatha) has intercepted a pass in several practices and had five tackles and an interception in the team's first scrimmage Saturday.

First-year defensive coordinator Don Brown has Tate blitzing and also lined him up in coverage as part of a new-look defense designed to confuse offenses.

"He's having a sensational camp," Friedgen said of Tate. "He's all over the place. He's intercepting passes and sacking guys. Every time you look up, he's making a play."

And Friedgen has praised Cannon, a fourth-year junior, for maturing throughout his career and thriving amid intense competition at the wide receiver position in camp.

"He's far and above all the receivers we have right now," Friedgen said. "He's just separated himself. He makes a lot of plays. He's a big, strong, physical kid and adjusts to the ball."

Cannon said he credits an offseason conditioning program -- which was recommended by former Maryland wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey -- that has strengthened his core and improved his overall performance.

"He did it last summer and it elevated his game," Cannon said. "Your core has to be intact. That's all they work on is core in the NFL."

Guarded Optimism

Friedgen said he has seen gradual improvement by the offensive line, particularly at guard, which continues to be among the team's biggest concerns heading into the Sept. 5 opener at California. Three spots along the line -- right and left guard and right tackle -- remain up for grabs.

"We have three redshirt freshman [Justin Lewis, R.J. Dill and Justin Gilbert] and two regular freshman [Pete White and Bennett Fulper] and then Maurice Hampton, a redshirt sophomore," Friedgen said. "They are very, very young.

"We knew going in, it is what it is. You just have to be patient and keep working them and keep encouraging them." . . .

Before Tuesday's practice was delayed for the second time because of weather, place kicker Mike Barbour made six straight field goals. . . .

When Maryland holds its second scrimmage Saturday at Byrd Stadium, Friedgen will have his offense work against Brown's defensive scheme only occasionally, because he wants the offense to face defensive schemes that it is more likely to see during the season.


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