Monday, April 09, 2007

Spring Practice

The football team has started spring practice which culminates in the Red vs White scrimmage on April 28th. With the number of injuries that the team is dealing with you may not get a true picture of what the team may look like come September. It seems to be a recurring nightmare but the offensive line is in a shambles again this season. With the academic struggles of Jared Gaither and the unexpected loss of Donnie Woods, who left the team with a year of eligibility remaining, this is a thin group again this season. Ever since Ralph Friedgen started recruiting his own players this has been a perennial problem for the Terps, which is odd given that Friedgen is a former lineman himself. Guard Andrew Crummey has a severe ankle sprain and may miss the rest of the spring as a result. With Edwin Williams and Jamie Thomas the rest of the interior is solid but there is no more depth to sustain further injuries. Dane Randolph and the oft injured Scott Burley will fill in at the tackle spots until Gaither can get his grades in order and improve is attitude. If things get desperate don't be surprised to see freshman OT Bruce Campbell, who had a fifth high school season to develop at Hargrave Military Academy, step in when he arrives in August.

Elsewhere:

Potential starters who are also out this spring due to injury include WR Isaiah Williams, LB Rick Costa and CB Isaiah Gardner. Costa was really coming on towards the end of last season and will be a factor if his shoulder heals by August.

Starting defensive end Jeremy Navarre injured his knee in practice and will miss the rest of the spring. It isn't clear if he will need surgery yet. Keon Lattimore is battling back problems and will also miss the spring game. His backup Da'Rel Scott also got bit by the injury bug with a knee problem that hasn't been fully examined yet. He will have an MRI to determine his status. Starter Lance Ball returns and with some decent depth in freshman Morgan Green Maryland isn't in terrible shape.

Another big loss is DE Barrod Heggs due to academics. Heggs' status with the team is very much in doubt and he may not return to the team by August. If he cannot get his grades in order it will be a big blow to the defense. Heggs was clearly the best pass rusher on a roster devoid of many players who can put pressure on the passer.

Most of the attention will be focused on Jordan Steffy and Josh Portis and their battle for the starting quarterback position. Steffy has a clear lead at the moment as Portis still does not have a clear grasp of the intricate Friedgen offense. Many have assumed that by August Portis will pass Steffy and take over the starting job. I wouldn't bet on that just yet. Portis needs to show dramatic improvement before that become likely. Though the quarterback competition has the most glamor the status of the linemen on both sides of the ball will probably have much more to do with Maryland's success this season.

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