HOLLENBACH LOOKS GOOD: Two weeks of solid play by Sam Hollenbach had already diffused any potential quarterback controversy. With a near-perfect performance in yesterday's closed scrimmage, Hollenbach made it official, with Coach Ralph Friedgen saying there was "no question" who his quarterback would be when the Terps face Navy on Sept. 3.
On his second series, Hollenbach led the offense on an 11-play, 70-yard scoring drive, capped by an 18-yard touchdown pass to Derrick Fenner on a timing route. The junior finished 10 of 13 for 170 yards, with three touchdowns and no interceptions.
"If there's been a bright spot this camp, it's been Sam Hollenbach," Friedgen said. "I'd like to see what's going to happen when he really gets some confidence and gets going on the field. That's what I've got to hope happens, that he takes this onto the field."
Several projected starters missed all or most of the scrimmage: linebacker D'Qwell Jackson and defensive end Jermaine Lemons were at family funerals, wide receiver Jo Jo Walker has a bruised hip, wide receiver Danny Melendez has a slight cartilage tear in his knee and offensive linemen Donnie Woods (rotator cuff) and Russell Bonham (stinger) also did not play.
Friedgen was primarily interested in looking at his less experienced players over the course of approximately 70 plays, and several of the youngsters gave him plenty to ponder.
Speedy freshman wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey caught a short slant and went 71 yards for a touchdown. Sophomore H-back Jason Goode caught a team-high five passes for 74 yards and scored on a long touchdown from second-string quarterback Joel Statham, while redshirt freshman tight end Dan Gronkowski caught a five-yard touchdown pass from Hollenbach
The passing game continues to outperform the running game, which was without senior tailback Mario Merrills and the team's top two fullbacks. Merrills should return this week from a left ankle sprain.
-- Dan Steinberg
BROOKS STILL LIMITED: It seems more and more unlikely that all-American linebacker Ahmad Brooks will be ready for the Cavaliers' Sept. 3 opener against Western Michigan at Scott Stadium. Brooks, a junior from Hylton High School, still hasn't participated in full-contact practices while recovering from March surgery to regenerate bone growth in his right knee. Brooks, one of three finalists for the Butkus Award as college football's top linebacker last season, has been limited to jogging and riding a stationary bike during preseason camp.
With Brooks sidelined, seniors Mike Miller and Bryan White are playing at inside linebacker along with starter Kai Parham in the Cavaliers' 3-4 defense.
Virginia continues to accumulate a plethora of early oral commitments for its February 2006 recruiting class. Two more prospects -- wide receiver-defensive back Cedric Jeffries of Egg Harbor, N.J., and quarterback O.C. Wardlow of Winston-Salem, N.C. -- committed to the Cavaliers last week.
O-LINE UNSETTLED: With two weeks left before the Sept. 4 opener at North Carolina State, the Hokies continue to shuffle their offensive line. Backup tight end Duane Brown this week moved to right tackle, where he is expected to battle senior Reggie Butler for the starting job. Last week, Tech coaches moved senior Will Montgomery back to center and elevated junior Brandon Gore to first-team left guard.
Pass protection is a major concern for the Hokies, who allowed the Wolfpack to sack quarterback Bryan Randall 10 times in last season's 17-16 loss at Lane Stadium. N.C. State returns six starters from a defense that ranked No. 1 in Division I-A last season, including defensive ends Mario Williams and Manny Lawson, who combined for 13 sacks in 2004. Senior Jordan Trott moved from defensive end to tight end after Brown's switch.
Freshman Sergio Render of Newnan, Ga., who moved from defensive tackle to offense early in camp, is now the No. 2 right guard behind senior Jason Murphy. Tech Coach Frank Beamer said other freshmen who are in contention to play this season include Victor Harris, who is the No. 2 field cornerback behind Roland Minor (H.D. Woodson); tight end Ed Wang (Stone Bridge); defensive end William Wall (H.D. Woodson); tailback Elan Lewis; and safety Dorian Porch.
-- Mark Schlabach
BACKFIELD MESHING: Navy senior slotback Marco Nelson rushed for 99 yards, including touchdown runs of 54 and 31 yards, on four carries to highlight yesterday's intrasquad scrimmage. The team's three fullbacks -- junior Matt Hall (six carries, 41 yards), sophomore Adam Ballard (three carries, 14 yards) and junior Trey Hines (seven carries, 22 yards) -- combined for 77 yards.
"Ballard and Hines are good players and we are trying to find different ways to play them," Navy Coach Paul Johnson said. "There will be more than one guy play at fullback but all three of them are good players and there are different ways we can use them. Ballard is good enough to play in space, and at 240 pounds, he gives us a different presence out there when running the option."
-- Jon Gallo