Maryland's final preseason scrimmage yesterday was one of the smoothest in four years, Coach Bobby Ross said.

But enthusiasm over the scrimmage was tempered by the status of junior tailback Tommy Neal, who missed his sixth straight day of practice with a hyperextended knee. "I know it's not serious to the point of surgery or anything like that," Ross said. "But with the knee, you never know. I'm concerned."

Tight end Ferrell Edmunds, defensive tackle Ted Chapman and cornerback Keeta Covington -- all starters -- also were held out of the scrimmage with various minor injuries that shouldn't keep them out of practice long.

Otherwise, it was hard for Ross not to be happy with a scrimmage that served as a "dress rehearsal" for the Sept. 7 opener against Penn State.

"It was probably as crisp a scrimmage as we've had . . . " Ross said. "Things ran as smoothly as we've ever had them run. There was only one turnover by the first team (at the end of the game) and there were no fumbles. Execution was pretty good. We got in about 15 more plays than than normal for this kind of scrimmage."

Ross said he wouldn't make decisions on who would start at center and one of the outside linebacker spots until after reviewing film. He did say that senior cocaptain Scott Schankweiler would start at one outside linebacker position.

Running backs apparently dominated the scrimmage, in which the varsity squad played a scout team of primarily first- and second-year players, plus selected players.

Spencer Scriber, a junior fullback, carried only three times but finished with 89 yards, with 70 of them coming on a touchdown run. Alvin Blount, the starting tailback, carried five times for 66 yards. Starting fullback Rick Badanjek ran three times for 14 yards, but two of them were short touchdowns.

Mike Anderson, the freshman back from DeMatha, also gained 66 yards on five carries, with one run of 52 yards. He and freshman Irvin Smith from Dickerson, Md., have been so impressive Ross indicated there is a good chance both will play this season and not be redshirted.

Quarterback Stan Gelbaugh completed nine of 14 passes for 127 yards and a touchdown (to James Milling). Three of his five incompletions were intentional throwaways.

The scrimmage, which was closed -- there were perhaps a dozen or so people peering into Byrd Stadium from the roof of Cole Field House and the adjacent parking garage -- marked the end of two-a-day practices.