Jerry Claiborne, Maryland football coach, still is seeking the defensive depth that was the foundation of the Terrapins appearing in five straight bowl games.
The Terrapins reached the halfway mark of the 20 spring practices allowed under NCAA rules with an intrasquad scrimmage on Saturday. Although only three touchdowns were scored by the offense in the scrimmage. Two came on long passes that illustrated the lack of depth.
One was completed against a walk-on, the other against a freshman. The Terps graduated eight of the defensive starters from the 1977 season opener and five potential defensive starters next season are missing spring drills withe injuries.
"The offensive depth appears to be much better at his time than the defensive depth," Claiborne said.
George Scott, Maryland's leading rusher with 894 yards last season, also is working at fullback this spring, as he did in Saturday's scrimmage when the most active multiple-I alignment had junior Tim O'Hare at quarter-back, Scott at fullback and freshman Dave Dixon at tailback.
Dixon, a high-school hurdles champion from Newport News, Va., carried only twice last season. He was the leading rusher Saturday with 59 yards in 11 carries and is the most likely newcomer to get playing time at Maryland's strongest position.
Besides defensive depth, Claiborne also lists three other major needs at this point: "Solidify the passing game, get more consistency in the running game and get a better kicking game."
Although O'Hare appears to be working himself into line as the starting quarterback for the 1978 opener against Tulane, Claiborne is not satisfied with the Terps' passing game, especially the timing between the quarterbacks and the receivers. The Terps spent a large portion of the scrimmage working on third-down pass plays.
He said, moments after O'Hare, a junior and the only quarterbakc in camp with any varsity experience, completed eight of 10 passes for 158 yards and an interception in the most recent scrimmage. "We have to get more consistency in seeing the open receivers," Claiborne said.
"The key to passing is to throw the ball to your spot before the receiver gets there, not throw it after he gets there. O'Hare is leading the pack, because he's had more experience in practice than anyone else. Dave McAfee (a red-shirted sophomore) and Bob Milkovich (a freshman from Wootton High) show signs of good things."
Mike Tice, the fourth quarterback, did not participate in the scrimmage. The 6-foot-7 freshman missed all of last week's drills with a sprained ankle. He expects to resume practice today. Clairborne gave his team the past two days off to recover from the bumps and bruises of this scrimmage.
Claiborne hopes to complete spring drills with the annyal two days off to recover the bumps and bruises of this scrimmage.
Clairborne hopes to complete spring drills with the annual Red-White game on April 22.