Maryland’s Sean Davis rested on the turf and waited for a trainer to check him out early in Saturday’s scrimmage at Byrd Stadium. It was a potentially scary moment for the Terps, who entered the annual fan appreciation event looking to limit collateral damage.
Davis had suffered a small stinger on the previous play, he said, but what he was really doing was stalling the torrent pace of an offense that played up-tempo all afternoon.
“Took my time,” Davis said with a smile. “I didn’t want them to hike the ball when we had 10 people on the field.”
Davis was cunning in more ways than one Saturday.
He prowled through the defensive backfield to intercept a Caleb Rowe pass on the first possession. He positioned himself to make several textbook tackles against his roommate, Albert Reid, and later he quietly patrolled a sideline during a punt before scooping up a fumble and returning it for a touchdown.
Davis was one of several players who made electrifying plays Saturday, but it was far from a banner day for the Terrapins.
The performance was littered with inconsistency — errant throws, turnovers, shanked punts, missed field goals.
But it was a continuation of the evaluation period for Maryland Coach Randy Edsall and his staff, who are expected to update the depth chart Monday as training camp enters the third week.
“We did okay,” Davis said. “We had some explosive plays, scored on defense. However, we did give up some big plays which resulted in touchdowns, which we can’t allow.”
Edsall held out some of his top players from Saturday’s session, including quarterback C.J. Brown, which opened up an opportunity for Rowe to play with the first-team offense. The junior backup had some big plays — he hit Deon Long for a 63-yard touchdown early on, then found Taivon Jacobs for a 27-yarder a few possessions later.
But he never fully took command of the action. Davis ruined a possible scoring drive early with his interception, and in the third quarter Jeremiah Johnson read a telegraphed Rowe pass for an interception and touchdown.
“I thought Caleb was very inconsistent today. I didn’t think he made a lot of good decisions out there,” Edsall said of Rowe, who finished 16 for 27 for 227 yards. “That’s one of the things I wanted to see. I wanted to put him out there with the ones and get him some work and let him know that he’s one play away from having to go in and play.”
Said Rowe: “Coach is right. It’s a little inconsistent, but that comes with reps. I mean I didn’t really know I was going with the first team until yesterday or today.”
Saturday carried depth-chart implications, and Edsall said a shuffle of personnel could come by Monday.
He will break down the game film the rest of the weekend, while the players have Sunday off before reporting for the final four days of preseason camp. The team’s star, wide receiver Stefon Diggs, played mostly with the second-team offense Saturday.
When Edsall was asked about Diggs’s place on the depth chart, he replied: “We’ve evaluated all throughout camp, and we took a look at things, and we’re going to evaluate things after this scrimmage, and now we’ll take a look at where we are.”
The Terrapins are two weeks from the season opener against James Madison.
Saturday marked an important checkpoint — and had a collection of promising performances. Long, whom Edsall called out earlier in camp, finished with eight catches for 136 yards and a touchdown, which came after he sliced through the secondary after catching a short five-yard out route.
Johnson looked good in his first public showing on the field in about a year, leading the way on a day the defensive backs stood out (corners Denzel Conyers and Josh Woods also had interceptions). And sophomore linebacker Yannick Ngakoue was a menace on the edge all day, recording a strip-sack and deflecting another pass.
“I was just happy with the energy,” Ngakoue said. “But I still feel like there’s still a lot of work.”