Looking much like they did last fall, the Maryland Terrapins played a Spring Game rife with penalties, mistakes, and spotty play by inexperienced quarterbacks. But there also were the expected flashes of brilliance by wide receiver Stefon Diggs and the unexpected sustained excellence of running backs Brandon Ross and Albert Reid, who demonstrated that Maryland is likely to have a vastly improved running attack.
The Red Team – made up of the first-team defense and second-team offense – had a chance to beat the White Team as sophomore Brendan Magistro lined up for a 21-yard field goal on the game’s final play. But sophomore linebacker Avery Thompson batted it down to preserve a 13-13 tie before 8,200 at Byrd Stadium.
Despite running behind the second-team offensive line, Reid (23 carries, 135 yards) put the Red Team in position to win with a late 39-yard sprint. His final four rushes of the 66-yard drive, however, netted only one yard as sophomore linebacker Shawn Petty (13 tackles) led the White Team stand. Reid also had a 23-yard touchdown option pass to sophomore wide receiver Daniel Adams in the third quarter.
“It was just a play we threw in there and it worked,” Reid said. “I didn’t throw at all in high school.”
The running of Ross (19 carries, 122 yards) was just as impressive. With junior quarterback Ricardo Young (12 of 21, 185 yards) throwing often to Diggs (eight receptions, 185 yards), the White Team moved the ball well, but was hampered by penalties. The first team offensive line — center Sal Conaboy, guards De’Onte Arnett and Andrew Zeller, and tackles Nick Klemm and Mike Madaras — made holes for Ross but accounted for most of the White Team’s seven penalties for 70 yards, which stalled drives.
“They’re coming along well,” Ross said of the line. “It’s a process of trying to make progress every day. What we need to do is work hard in the summer, so when camp comes around we’re ready to go.”
Diggs had the play of the game, taking a wide receiver screen, and blowing past a defender with a slow-down fake. Breaking free up the sideline, Diggs completed the 51-yard touchdown play to put the White Team up 10-7 late in the third period.
Since he took over for Ralph Friedgen in January of 2011, Randy Edsall has stressed the importance of developing depth. On Friday, the Terrapins flashed it as the second units played well. On the White defense, in addition to Petty, reserve defensive backs Isaac Goins and Zach Dancel had interceptions, junior linebacker Clarence Murphy (eight tackles) had a sack and another tackle for a loss, and junior tackle Alex Walker contributed a sack and a fourth-down stop.
“We’re definitely getting depth,” starting junior linebacker Cole Farrand said. “Everyone that’s on the field wants to play and the second team wants to play. Everyone is fighting for a position out here. The intensity was great out here and it was just a good game.”
Leading the Red Team defense was junior Jeremiah Johnson who set up Reid’s touchdown pass with an interception, senior linebacker Marcus Whitfield (three sacks), and junior nose guard Darius Kilgo (six tackles) who added a sack and another tackle for a loss.
The most impressive – and perhaps surprising – production came from the running attack. Last fall Maryland averaged 2.6 yards per carry, the lowest figure by far in the ACC, as its backs struggled to find daylight running behind a young offensive line. That wasn’t the case at all on Friday.
“I limited what the defense could do,” Edsall said. “It was still good to see that from them. That is what we have seen out of Brandon and Albert all spring along with how they run. The one thing we have to be able to do is run the ball efficiently. When we do that it opens up the passing game.”
Note: Edsall said that in lieu of captains, he has established a leadership council. “We will select game captains week by week,” Edsall said. “I had coaches recommend a guy from their position who they felt could be a leader of their group and the team.” The council includes Diggs (wide receivers), Reid (running backs), Kilgo (defensive line), Farrand (inside linebackers), Johnson (defensive backs), Conaboy (offensive line), junior C.J. Brown (quarterbacks), senior Dave Stinebaugh (tight ends), and senior Greg Parcher (special teams).