Maryland Red-White spring game notebook


Maryland’s football program held its annual Red-White spring game at Byrd Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Here’s some observations and notes on the Terrapins:

The Good:

Hills and Leak made it look easy

With starting quarterback Caleb Rowe still recovering from a torn ACL, backup signal caller Perry Hills took the snaps for the Red team. Hills looked sharp throughout the game, particularly in the first half, as he and wide receiver Marcus Leak connected for three touchdowns before halftime. The first came on a short pass over the middle and Leak did the rest, taking the ball about 15 to 20 yards and dragging defenders with him as he fell across the goal line. The second came after Hills hit receiver DeAndre Lane for a 48-yard gain to put the Red team two yards away from another score. On the next play, the White team defense blew an assignment, leaving Leak all alone on the outside for an uncontested touchdown grab. The combo hooked up a third time with about three minutes left to go in the half, as Hills found Leak for a 27-yard touchdown. Leak also had another couple nice catches, including a 49-yard reception towards the end of the first half.

Hills just missed connecting with Lane for another touchdown, but after Lane broke free from the defense the receiver got turned around in the end zone and couldn’t haul in the well-thrown 30-yard pass from Hills. The junior quarterback also had a beautifully thrown 35-yard pass to the end zone misplayed by receiver Will Ulmer. Ulmer should have been able to get both hands on the ball, but seemed to unnecessarily attempt a one-handed catch much to the dismay of some of his Red teammates, as some stood with their hands in the air as if to say “What was that about?”

While Hills looked good for most of the game, he also threw a few bad passes and made a couple poor decisions. Hills overthrew a wide open Leak streaking down the sideline for what would have been an easy score. Just two plays later, Hills paid homage to predecessor C.J. Brown by throwing an interception directly into the hands of a defender (defensive back Antwaine Carter). Hills also narrowly avoided adding a couple other interceptions to his day. One was after Hills tried to hit a receiver through double coverage, and the pass was nearly picked off but for the referee calling the defender out of bounds. The other was a short pass over the middle off the fingertips of Leak, and defensive back Milan Collins almost made an athletic diving interception, but again the referee called it an incomplete pass.

Reid and Ross look strong

Running back Albert Reid disappeared most of last season, but looked good in this spring scrimmage. He seemed to get the majority of the carries, and broke off a couple nice runs. He finessed his way past defenders and fought for yards after contact like it was a regular season Big Ten matchup. He obviously is trying to earn more carries in 2015. Reid also saw some action out of the wildcat formation, where he lined up out of the shotgun. On one of his carries in the opening half, he took the ball outside and gained a few yards.

Ross, the only Terrapin running back in 2014 to have 100 yards rushing in one game, also looked decent in the scrimmage. He had a few nice runs, including a 56-yard touchdown run at the start of the second half. Despite Wes Brown sitting out Saturday’s scrimmage, Brown and Ross will likely be atop the Maryland depth chart when the summer breaks.

The Bad:

Cockerille has his fair share of struggles

Quarterback Shane Cockerille started under center for the White team, and didn’t have a particularly encouraging performance. He looked uncomfortable all afternoon, throwing behind receivers, overthrowing receivers downfield, and nearly throwing two interceptions. Cockerille attempted to hit wideout Malcolm Culmer after rolling out to his left, and the lefty threw a dead duck that should have been picked off by safety Anthony Nixon. At the end of the game, another poor pass was picked off by star cornerback Will Likely, but was called back after a defensive penalty.

Aside from Craddock, Maryland special teams has work to do

Aside from Brad Craddock, the Maryland kickers struggled mightily in the scrimmage. Other than one of Lee Shrader’s punts going through the hands of return man Jacquille Veii and traveling 64 yards, punters Nicolas Pritchard and Lee Shrader had difficulty booting a punt beyond 40 yards all game. With the departure of former punter Nathan Renfro, this could potentially be a problem area to keep an eye on this season. At the end of the first half, backup kicker Adam Greene had a 21-yard field goal attempt blocked.

Other notes:

  • Sophomore Will Ulmer, who converted from quarterback to wide receiver last season after the injury bug (and Levern Jacobs’ season-long suspension) depleted the Terps’ wide receiving corp, took a few snaps under center in wildcat formation with QB Perry Hills lining up as a receiver. Ulmer carried the ball just a few times, but this could be a formation the Terps use this season as a change of pace and to get an athlete like Ulmer involved in the offense.
  • 2014 Lou Groza Award winner Brad Craddock looked in mid-season form, nailing a 50-yard field goal through swirling winds at start the second quarter.
  • Fullback Kenneth Goins, Jr. punched in a touchdown from the two-yard line in the fourth quarter.
  • Defensive end Roman Braglio was ejected from the game following a defensive penalty with less than a minute left in the game.