Ralph Friedgen wasn't overly impressed with his Maryland team's performance in yesterday's intrasquad scrimmage. There were too many penalties, numerous missed tackles and at least seven turnovers.
Despite an intermittent rain, fans lined the Terps' practice field to watch a team that has become a top 25 mainstay in Friedgen's three seasons. But Friedgen has questioned throughout summer camp whether another 10-win season is realistic, considering the strength of the revamped ACC and his team's youth -- 36 players have four years of eligibility. "This will be a tough year" because of the youth, Friedgen said during the week.
After yesterday's scrimmage, with the season-opening Northern Illinois game less than two weeks away, Friedgen said: "I never think they are ready. . . . The last two years I was right."
One of the keys to avoid another slow start to a season will be getting consistent quarterback play. The team's likely starter, sophomore Joel Statham, completed 11 of 19 passes for 145 yards before the Terps began to practice specific situational plays. Still, Friedgen, who has yet to formally name a starter, said he has seen Statham play better.
"The more I get to play the more confidence I have and the more confidence they have in me," said Statham, who has performed well for the most part since struggling in the spring game.
The battle for the backup quarterback job likely won't be settled until after Thursday's scrimmage. Jordan Steffy, Sam Hollenbach and Ryan Mitch all were essentially even entering yesterday's scrimmage.
Steffy had been impressing coaches in practice by quickly learning a complicated offensive system and with his strong arm, which recently has been sore. One of Steffy's highlights yesterday was a 16-yard touchdown pass to Drew Weatherly. Steffy, however, had one interception and didn't stay in the pocket as much as Friedgen would have liked.
"Obviously, Joel was a little ahead," Steffy said. "But today was a big determining factor" for the backup job.
On the next series after Steffy's touchdown pass, Mitch answered with an equally impressive 18-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Paschal Abiamiri. Mitch said his confidence rose after running back J.P. Humber broke open for a 44-yard run.
Humber, who ran for 94 yards on 16 carries and scored two touchdowns, hurt his shoulder during the scrimmage. The Terps already have one injured running back in Keon Lattimore, who has dislocated his shoulder and either will have to have surgery or be out at least four weeks, Friedgen said.