One of the priorities for Maryland football Coach Bobby Ross' spring practice was to find a dependable No. 2 quarterback. With the annual spring game coming up April 30, Ross is still looking.
"We had hoped someone would emerge to back up Boomer (Esiason) but Stan Gelbaugh, the second-string quarterback last year, was injured during practice and hasn't been able to do much," Ross said. "He has a knee strain and right now is walking around in a soft cast. We're hoping he can come back for the final week. We had hoped to work him a lot before he got hurt."
With Gelbaugh hobbled, Barry Waselski and Frank Wright have split the reserve quarterback duties. Ross said they have been about even.
"Because Gelbaugh hasn't worked enough, we haven't been able to establish that No. 2 spot," Ross said. "That's been a little problem."
Ross said Esiason, who came on strong last year, is playing well this spring. "Boomer has worked on his mechanics. I think he's setting up quicker and thowing the ball even better," Ross said. "I've been very pleased with him."
Ross, also hoping to strengthen the inside running game, switched Rick Badanjek from fullback to tailback and Kevin Glover from tackle to center.
"Kevin made a very easy adjustment to center and Rick will give us a lot of versatility at both positions," Ross said. "Our offensive line is improved, thus our inside running game has looked much better. We've added a few new wrinkles, some motion here and there. Otherwise, we'll stand pat. Our offense worked reasonably well last year."
Somewhat of concern to Ross is the defense. Maryland lost seven of its front eight players and Ross and his staff have taken long looks at some of the 110 players, including 36 walk-ons.
Ross has made several changes defensively. Jonathan Simmons was switched from defensive back to end, Vernon Carter from running back to safety and Al Covington from fullback to defensive back. Covington is recovering from ligament damage and a broken fibula in his ankle. He is expected to be out six to eight weeks.
"Assuming Al comes back, our secondary will have a lot of depth," Ross said. "Where we're a little concerned is up front. We're so young."
Down linemen Pete Koch and Tyrone Furman started some last year and are having fine springs. Also playing well are linebackers J.D. Gross, the only returning starter, and last year's top reserves--Brian Baker, Eric Wilson and Bobby DePaul.
"Because we are young, we've put in more contact work than last year," Ross said. "We want to put the kids in as many game-type situations as we can. A lot of third and 15s, second and 12s--that type of situations. We're using a lot of small-group line scrimmages. The kids are working hard and have come along very well."
Ross said next week's final sessions before the annual spring game will be more relaxed.
"We'll play around a little bit, let the kids work the soreness out so we can have a good, tough spring game. Let them have a little fun."