Thanks to colleague Gene Wang for pinch-hitting at Maryland football practice on Tuesday, the final practice media availability before the team enters game-week preparation on Sunday. Read his blog post on quarterback C.J. Brown here.
The following notes have been cobbled together from the transcription of Coach Randy Edsall’s post-practice press conference.
>> Ryan Doyle spent all of last week working alongside the first-team offensive linemen, including Saturday afternoon’s open scrimmage, and Edsall rewarded him with the starting right tackle job. Doyle came on strong during August, unseating Nick Klemm, who reportedly missed Monday’s practice with an undisclosed injury. Both had troubles during the scrimmage with Maryland’s linebacker blitzes, but Doyle evidently did enough to earn himself the nod.
Klemm should be the third tackle in line behind Doyle and sophomore Mike Madaras.
>> Michael Dunn overtook Andrew Zeller as the starting right guard, a surprise given that Zeller started three games last season as a redshirt freshman and Dunn is a walk-on redshirt freshman who began the summer as Klemm’s backup at right tackle. But inconsistencies necessitated sweeping changes on the offensive line’s right side, so Dunn moves to right guard and Zeller now becomes third in line behind Dunn and De’Onte Arnett.
“My whole thing with the offensive line has always been, let me find my five best guys and find the guys that I felt that the group was the best with what we have,” Edsall said. Andrew’s got some things that he knows he’s got to work on. Right now, he’d be our third guard. I just like the way that Michael Dunn has been playing. When you sit there and assess and evaluate your talent and you see that you might have say three tackles that you feel really good about then what you have to is, or at least what I do is, look at your guard situation and say is one of those tackles better than one of the guards you have. We put Michael in there and watched him and liked what we saw and then had him get out in the scrimmage and I thought he did well. We just feel like that puts our five best guys out there. We’re a little thin there so we’re going to have some guys back up both sides probably.”
This means that Silvano Altamirano, who has not practiced at full strength all preseason, should be the fourth available guard, while Evan Mulrooney will remain as center Sal Conaboy’s backup, despite having high school experience at left tackle.
>> The other positional battle clarified Tuesday came at free safety, where Sean Davis cemented his spot over A.J. Hendy. They had rotated throughout August; the two traded full practices working with the first-team defense.
“Right now, we have Sean with the No. 1’s, but that one was as close as you can probably get,” Edsall said. “That’s what we told the kids. It was close. Sean knows that he’s got to perform each day. A.J. has practiced very hard, he has before too. Yesterday is always a tough day because when make these decisions and when you sit down and talk to the players… They bust their butts and they give a lot of effort. This is a hard game. There’s a lot that goes into it and when you sit down and tell them the other guy’s going to be starting, they’re disappointed and down a little bit. You tell them, now the competitors got to come out because they’re one play away.
That said, Edsall said Hendy will see extensive time on dime packages and special teams, calling him “a starter on this football team.”
>> As recently as last week, Edsall called Brad Craddock the team’s starting kicker, but reneged on that comment following an 0-for-3 outing during the scrimmage. Both Craddock, the incumbent starter, and true freshman Adam Greene have demonstrated their leg strength, but so far neither has been unable to string together consistent kicks from long distance. It’s a glaring issue for the Terps, one that might not be solved by simple physical adjustments.
“He’s been like a tease to us a little bit,” Edsall said of Craddock. “He comes out here and one day he’s not as you’d like and then he comes out the next day and hits everything, and it’s like, that wasn’t the same guy as the day before. That’s the thing. I’m trying to figure out what to do to make him more consistent. He’s got the leg, just like Adam. Adam’s been the same way. They have the tools and now what we’ve got to do is figure out if we’ve got to do something from a mental standpoint and that’s something we’re working out every single day. I know they’ve got the ability, we’ve just got to do whatever we can to help them be consistent.”
>> Another practice, another Edsall quote praising freshman cornerback Will Likely, who has been one of camp’s most impressive performers, despite standing at 5-7.
“Will’s a competitor, Will plays bigger than his size,” Edsall said. “That’s where you really appreciate guys like Will because I think he understands what his strengths and what his weaknesses are and so he always tries to put himself in a position of strength. He’s got as much football savvy that I’ve been around as a freshman maybe ever. I just like the way he competes and how he understands everything and how he works. If we told him he had to guard a 6-10 guy, he’d find a way to guard him. He’d find a way to do what he had to do and that’s the thing that I think makes him so successful. For a young guy, he plays with an extreme amount of confidence, which sometimes is hard to find.”