Friday, May 04, 2007

Spring Game a QB dud

There were many questions but few answers about the starting quarterback position for Maryland this fall after the recent spring game. The clear choice based on succession was junior Jordan Steffy who is now in his third year of the Friedgen offense. He is supposed to have the best grasp of the offense among the candidates but seems to make the same kinds of mistakes he has made since he arrived in College Park. If the 48 yards passing and 3 interception performance in the spring game is any indication then Steffy doesn't have a firm grip on the playbook or his starting job. One of those interceptions may not have been his fault an end of half endzone heave but it still wasn't much to get excited about. He may understand all the formations and calls but he needs to get to the point where he can actually execute the offense. To be fair Steffy was going against the first team defense for most of the game but this defense won't scare anyone this fall either.

Those fans in love with recruiting rankings have assumed that at some point Florida transfer Josh Portis will take control of the signal calling. Though he may possess great "tools" with a somewhat unusual throwing motion he seems fairly confused about Friedgen's offense. He had one 68 yard touchdown pass to Darrius Heyward-Bey where the cornerback fell down but besides that he was 4-11 for 36 yards. His scrambling ability is tantalizing and is clearly the best quarterback at running the option component of Ralph's offense. Unfortunately he is a long, long way from being proficient enough to be the starting quarterback.

Third string quarterback Chris Turner had the best showing in the game. He was matched against the second string defense but had the best command in the huddle and frequently made the right decision on his check downs. He completed nine out of his last ten passes once he got in a rhythm in the 2nd half. His final stats 11-15 for 115 yards were the best out of the top three quarterbacks. Don't be shocked if Turner makes a run at the starting job in August.

Former prep star Jeremy Ricker has left the team after feeling he got too few reps in spring practice. There were suggestions that Ricker was unable to comprehend the complex offense Maryland runs. Ricker will transfer to another program in the near future.

It was hard to access the units because there are so many players who have missed time due to injury. The defense still needs some playmakers and a better pass rush. The running game was slightly disappointing but if the offensive line gets healthy that should improve. If the running game can grind down opponents it will make up for some of the deficiencies at quarterback.

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