Monday, May 09, 2005

Spring Game Recap

The annual Spring game was held this past Saturday and I've just finished watching the tape from Comcast. Johnny Holiday said during the broadcast that this was the first time the game has ever been televised. Not very surprising given that only about 4,000 people showed up to watch in person. The Red team walked away with the victory 21-10 in a fairly uninspiring game. Neither offense was able to muster much against the defense. The breakdown by position:

Quarter Back
Sam Hollenbach is the starter as of now. He had an efficient if not scintillating effort in the scrimmage. His OL and receivers didn't help him all that much. Joel Statham was just as terrible as last season. He threw one interception and had a few others that were dropped. He continued to force the ball into double coverage and displayed little accuracy or touch. On one play he underthrew the ball so badly the receiver fell down short of the goal line when he should have been able to just step into the end zone. It was a pass that any decent high school prospect should have been able to complete. Hollenbach is kind of like Trent Dilfer, he won't beat you with his mistakes, and given that Maryland was a few plays from being 7-5 last year I doubt the coaches will not remember that when choosing the winner.

Running Back
Keon Lattimore(So) had several nice runs and is pushing hard for the starting spot, but Mario Merrels(Sr) isn't going to give up the job easily. Merrels is more willing to run between the tackles but lacks the burst and speed of Lattimore. Who catches out of the better backfield and does a superior job on blitz protection will get the starting job.

Reciever
Outside of Vernon Davis(Jr) this is a fairly mediocre group, though Davis can be such a game changing force that might be enough. Derrick Fenner(Sr) and Jo Jo Walker(Sr) need to make more plays. Fenner hasn't been the same since 2002 when he missed the last 3 games of the season due to an appendectomy. Drew Weatherly(Jr) who should be an imposing presence at 6-3 did little in the scrimmage and even though Hollenbach continued to throw in his direction in the 2nd half, most of which resulted in incompletions. Dan Melendez(Sr) and Greg Powell(Jr) both showed flashes as possession recievers.

Offensive Line
Neither line was all that impressive. They opened few holes in the running game and gave up a combined 6 sacks, though there was a "no contact" rule on the QBs. Andrew Crummey(S0) who has been given the starting spot at center struggled in the game. He was beaten badly on a number of plays. His backup Edwin Williams(Fr) is more physical and seems to have a nasty streak. If he can master the calls he will take over the job.

Defensive Line
No one in this group will make you forget Shawne Merriman but it could be a very deep and ultimately effective rotation. Dennis Marsh(Fr) was very effective at disrupting the offense on pulls and sweeps from his tackle spot. Dre Moore(So) also had a few nice plays from the tackle position and along with Carlos Feliciano(So) the Terps could have the best depth in the Friedgen era. Keep an eye out for incoming freshman Melvin Aleaze(was at the Spring game) in in the fall. He will likely be a starter from the outset and will make an impact.

Linebacker
D'Qwell Jackson missed the spring game while recovering from a wrist injury but the linebacking corps is stacked with talent. Wesley Jefferson(So), considered the #1 LB his senior year in high school and the highest profile recruit of Ralph Friedgen, has struggled to find his place. He appears a step slow reacting to plays and often fails to deliver a big hit on the ball carrier. There are a slew of young backers that could pass him by if he is unable to put things together. Erin Henderson(Fr), brother of former all-world Terp EJ, showed some flashes of the same instincts and flair for big plays that his brother had. Eric Lenz(Fr) had to have surgery on his neck last season and it was not clear that he would ever play football again. His recovery has gone well and he is back on the field. He showed signs of why he was picked as the defensive player of the year by the Washington Post as a senior at Urbana. He nearly intercepted a Joel Statham pass by leaping up and snatching it from the passing lane. This is a very young and athletic group capable of covering sideline to sideline. Should be the strength of the defense.

Defensive Back
CB Josh Wilson(Jr) will be the successor to All-ACC CB Domonique Foxworth. He is fast and aggressive, can break on the ball and is willing to throw his body around in run support. Undersized Gerrick McPherson(Sr) currently has a hold on the other CB spot, but don't expect that to last. McPherson is one of the faster straight line players on the team but struggles in coverage. He is often beaten on the first move and lacks that burst in recovery. His diminutive frame puts him at a disadvantage to larger wideouts. Look for Kevin Barnes(Fr) to push for the job. JJ Justice(So.) may be moved to SS to get him on the field. He was very active in run support and had a scrimmage high 13 tackles. The coaching staff will try to get him on the field.

Special Teams
It isn't clear who is going to take over the kicking duties for the departed Nick Novak. Dan Ennis and Obi Egekeze didn't do much to separate themselves, although it seems Ennis has a better leg on kickoffs. Vernon Davis was used in kick return duties but I'm not sure the staff will want him doing that all season. It may be a fun experiment and not much more. Josh Wilson also looked to have some talent for punt returning.

No comments: