Starting left tackle Stephon Heyer tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee yesterday morning and will have surgery in the next few weeks after the swelling subsides. The 6-foot-7, 319-pound senior, who will almost certainly miss the season, could redshirt and return next year.
Heyer was hurt on the second day of full-contact practice when transfer linebacker Rick Costa knocked him backward during a two-on-two drill. He is the only returning lineman on either side of the ball to start all 11 games last year, and his absence would leave a huge hole in one of Maryland's least-experienced units. Making matters worse, sophomore right tackle Scott Burley had offseason back surgery and has been bothered by occasional pain, which forced him to the sideline yesterday.
Redshirt freshman Dane Randolph filled in for Heyer yesterday; he was backed up by freshman Jared Gaither, who has two years of organized football experience.
Another redshirt freshman, 317-pound DeMatha product Edwin Williams, likely will start at center, while at least two sophomore linemen also are likely to start.
"I have confidence that they're going to be pretty darn good in time," Coach Ralph Friedgen said before the extent of Heyer's injury was known. "It's just how fast." . . .
Friedgen remains generally pleased with the play of quarterback Sam Hollenbach -- who is comfortably atop the depth chart -- and former starter Joel Statham, while sophomore Jordan Steffy has complained of occasional discomfort in his sore knee and throwing arm. Playing against defensive pressure for the first time yesterday, Steffy showed the effects of missing spring practice and is behind the other two quarterbacks, Friedgen said. . . .
Cornerback Josh Wilson left the evening practice with a laceration on his left leg and is day-to-day.
Starting nose tackle Rob Armstrong missed several practices this week because of a sore back that has bothered him for months. . . .
Reserve fullback Matt Deese had surgery to remove cartilage from his knee and will be out around two weeks. Another fullback, Tim Cesa, is still out because of mononucleosis, although he could return tomorrow.
-- Dan Steinberg
The Midshipmen's offense scored five touchdowns, but also watched the defense return a pair of fumbles for scores during a two-hour preseason scrimmage yesterday in Annapolis.
Senior starting quarterback Lamar Owens was effective, completing 5 of 9 passes for 70 yards and an interception in addition to rushing for 29 yards on 10 carries.
"I thought the line blocked really well and the way we played gave us a lot of confidence," said junior fullback Matt Hall, who had 50 yards on 15 carries and caught two passes for 35 yards. Junior wide receiver Garth Davidson caught a 42-yard touchdown pass from freshman reserve quarterback Joe Taylor, who completed 3 of 5 passes for 58 yards.
-- Jon Gallo
For the first time during the Al Groh era, Virginia has good competition at nose tackle. Three players are battling for the starting job in training camp. Senior Kwakou Robinson, junior Ron Darden (Glen Burnie) and sophomore Keenan Carter (Potomac Senior High) are rotating at the spot, and Groh said, "There's no edge right now and it looks like it will be that way for a while." Darden, 6 feet 4, 327 pounds, has been impressive after moving from guard. He played in only six games last season because of migraine headaches. Carter is wearing a cast on his left hand, and Robinson, who has battled his weight since being named a freshman all-American by the Sporting News in 2002, appeared to pull his right hamstring in yesterday's practice.
Hokies Coach Frank Beamer seemed a little miffed that the media voted Virginia's Connor Hughes as the preseason all-ACC kicker. Last season, Tech place kicker Brandon Pace was named all-ACC after making 43 of 44 extra point attempts and 21 of 27 field goal attempts. The junior from Virginia Beach was second in the ACC in scoring, and first among kickers, with 8.2 points per game. "He must have had a bad summer," Beamer joked. Pace and Hughes, a senior from Williamsburg, were named to the preseason watch list for the Lou Groza Award, which goes to the nation's top kicker. . . .
Junior quarterback Marcus Vick completed 4 of 8 passes for 80 yards and was sacked three times in the Hokies' first scrimmage of the preseason yesterday. Vick ran 19 plays against the first- and second-team defenses. Overall, the Hokies defense had 10 sacks in 67 plays, including 21/2 by defensive end Darryl Tapp.
-- Mark Schlabach