The secondary and the kicking game are the two major holes the Maryland football team must patch before September, Coach Jerry Claiborne said after the White team defeated the Red team yesterday, 27-8, in the annual spring football game at Byrd Stadium.
"The secondary has still got to improve," said Claiborne, adding that he must replace six defensive backs. "They're young and inexperienced. We haven't looked as good this spring as we have in the past, but that is because we've had so many good people playing back there before. We might have three who are drafted next week (in the NFL draft)."
The only letterman to return in the secondary is junior Wayne Wingfield, who missed the spring game because of a knee injury.
Replacing all-America Dale Castro, a punter and placekicker, is another problem Clairborne did not find an answer to yesterday. He was also unhappy with the number of passes dropped by receivers.
One position that Claiborne has to feel encouraged with is quarterback where sophomore-to-be Norman (Bommer) Esiason played most of the final three quarers for the White team and threw three touchdown passes. Esiason rolled out well, displayed a strong arm and scrambled when necessary in completing nine of 14 passes for 110 yards and no interceptions.
Senior Bob Milkovich, the No. 1 quarterback on the depth chart, has shown more consistency than any other quarterback in spring practice, said Claiborne. However, Milkovich missed receivers and had several other throws dropped in completing only eight of 19 for 68 yards for the Red team.
"He (Milkovich) would be No. 1 if we had to play today, but we don't have to play until next September," Claiborne said. "Esiason did today what he's been doing all spring. He constantly comes up with the big play. He's been able to pick out people when he's scrambling. He was more consistent today then he has been. But Milkovich has been the most consistent of the quarterbacks we've had so far this spring."
Esiason threw touchdown passes of nine and 11 yards to tight end John Tice, and a 12-yarder to tailback Dale Morris. Brent Dewitz, who started for the White team, directed the first touchdown drive of the game. Charlie Wysocki (18 carriess for 68 yards), concluded that drive on a one-yard run at 5:41 of the second quarter.
The Red team did not score until 1:51 remained. Milkovich hit Alan Sadler with an eight-yard pass to finish a 13-play, 70-yard drive.