Maryland football coach Ralph Friedgen satisfied with spring practice

"If I was disappointed, we'd still be out there," Maryland Coach Ralph Friedgen said. (Gail Burton - AP)
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By Eric Prisbell
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, April 25, 2010

After two long scrimmages and a month of practices, Maryland Coach Ralph Friedgen concluded what he called a productive spring with an efficient intra-squad scrimmage that was short on snaps and injuries.

Four 10-minute quarters proved more than enough time for Friedgen to see what he was looking for Saturday: all-around effort and improvement after a disastrous 2-10 season.

"If I was disappointed," Friedgen said, "we'd still be out there."

Jamarr Robinson, who will enter summer camp as Maryland's starting quarterback, led the Red team to a 13-0 lead before a smattering of fans at Byrd Stadium. But the White team, led by backup quarterback Danny O'Brien and running back D.J. Adams, rallied to win, 21-13.

Adams, a redshirt freshman, was the most impressive player. He rushed for 71 yards on 14 carries, caught two passes for 29 yards and scored the game's only fourth-quarter touchdowns (on runs of nine and four yards).

Maryland's most dynamic player, wide receiver Torrey Smith, caught four passes for 90 yards and a touchdown for the Red team. Friedgen also praised the improvement this spring of running backs Da'Rel Scott, who has been running lower, and Davin Meggett, who has been running faster. Wide receiver Quintin McCree, who caught three passes for 33 yards Saturday, also has made strides.

But for all the ability Maryland has at skill positions, the team won't improve if the offensive line struggles as mightily as it did last season, when Maryland finished 110th nationally in sacks allowed and 105th in rushing. Three starters -- center Paul Pinegar, left guard Andrew Gonnella and right tackle R.J. Dill -- return on a line that Friedgen said has "vastly improved."

"The difference this year is we have a lot of young guys who have a blue-collar, scrappy mentality," Gonnella said. "It will bring a different dynamic to our play."

O'Brien, a redshirt freshman, is encouraged about the team's chances because "the O-line proved they can play. And we're deep at quarterback, running back and wide receiver."

James Franklin, Maryland's offensive coordinator, has said this is the deepest stable of Maryland quarterbacks in more than two decades. Nine of the top 10 receivers are back. And there will be several options at running back, including quicksilver sophomore Caleb Porzel, who did not play Saturday because he is concentrating on academics.

Friedgen's biggest disappointments Saturday were two interceptions by Robinson and two by O'Brien. Robinson completed 11 of 18 passes for 143 yards but was intercepted in the third quarter when he threw over the middle to Smith, who bobbled the ball in the air and into the hands of safety Kenny Tate.

"Jamarr had the one interception," Friedgen said, "which I thought was the difference in the game."

O'Brien, who completed 10 of 16 passes for 93 yards, threw two early interceptions but calmed down to play a better second half. Midway through the third quarter, he hooked up with wide receiver Kevin Dorsey for a 19-yard touchdown pass.

O'Brien said the difference between practice last fall and this spring has been "night and day" in terms of his comfort, adding that "last season I worried about getting everything right on every play. This season it is more second nature."

One season after 24 true or redshirt freshmen played, Maryland will enter the fall with plenty of youth still on the roster. But the Terrapins will be more experienced -- 27 players have started at least one game -- and more confident.

"I think we had a very good spring," Friedgen said. "I am very pleased by where we are at right now."

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