1.) Deon Long looks healthier than ever
If you’re an outsider ooking at Deon Long’s numbers from last year (489 yards, 1 touchdown) you’re not going to consider him an All-American threat on the field. But if you watched Saturday’s scrimmage, you’d have gotten an idea of the very real potential Long has on the field as a receiver. Long finished with 135 yards receiving and showed no lingering effects from his broken leg last season.
Long’s always been a developed route runner, and he might even look better when you factor in how much time he’s missed. That might be attributable to new receiver coach Keenan McCardell, but it’s just as much Long putting in the man hours to improve. He and backup QB Caleb Rowe had a clear chemistry together and it showed. Sure, this was just a scrimmage, but in Long the Terps have that very real secondary threat that allows defenses to not just focus on Diggs or C.J. Brown every play. It’s hard not to get excited about that.
2.) This defense is going to surprise people
Randy Edsall and Brian Stewart have quietly put together a lot of solid defenses. Their last two units have been top 45 nationally in total defensive yards per game, and one could make a clear argument that were there more stability on the offensive side of the ball, they’d be even better. And even with the departure of CB Dexter McDougle, Maryland’s may well have even more playmakers on the defensive side of the ball.
I had safety Sean Davis pegged as a major breakout player this year after racking up 108 tackles last season, and the scrimmage (note: only a scrimmage) simply affirmed that. Davis made a nice play on a the ball following a muffed punt by DeAndre Lane that resulted in a touchdown, showing off his knack for doing the right thing. He also picked off Caleb Rowe and took it back for a few extra yards. Davis always seems to be part of the good plays that occur on the field, and avoids making the minor errors that ultimately damn defenses. I’d be shocked if he isn’t going to be talked about a lot more by the national media when this season ends.
3.) Still questions about the running backs
Not a whole lot to report on here except for the fact that Maryland has a tough choice to make at the running back position. Brandon Ross is probably going to have to be your 1A guy, given his experience and solid performance during the preseason. But he can’t take every snap, and it’s splitting hairs between Wes Brown and Albert Reid. Neither player has done a ton to separate themselves from the pack, although Brown might have a slight upper-hand. He had a nice 27 yard run in the first half that showed what he’s capable of when healthy, but other than that was relatively quiet.
Reid finished with 41 yards on 10 carries, but 23 of those came on a single rush. That’s what makes the backup competition so difficult to solve. Right now it’s anyone’s guess.
4.) Taivon Jacobs could be a star in the making
Redshirt freshman Taivon Jacobs is a tremendous talent and eventually he’s going to be a dynamic player for the Terps when his number is called. He’s got great size, great speed, and good vision at the receiving spot for Maryland. Jacobs played in place of Diggs, who was put with the second team, and did not do much to dissuade the coaching staff from using him more often.
He may be overshadowed right now by Diggs and Long (and even his brother Levern), but his time will come — sooner rather than later.