So Maryland’s (men’s) basketball season just ended.
The reward? The resumption of football.
Indeed, spring football begins tomorrow, with an array of morning practice times on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays for the next five weeks.
It is, in short, a deadline-friendly venture from beginning to end.
But what is there to learn from these 15 sessions? Probably not a ton, but there are certainly subplots to keep an eye on as practice gets underway.
1. What’s the defensive look?
The next five weeks will be interesting for the defense and new coordinator Don Brown, who takes over for Chris Cosh (now at Kansas State). The former Massachusetts coach owns a reputation for blitzing and blitzing and blitzing, a trait Maryland fans will probably welcome (on paper, anyway). He has some work to do, however, after losing so many defensive linemen and linebackers from a season ago.
2. Who’s at linebacker?
Speaking of attrition from last year, it will be most evident at linebacker. With five of the top eight linebackers gone and Alex Wujciak still recuperating from knee surgery, there’s going to be plenty of opportunities for Demetrius Hartsfield and newcomers Darin Drakeford and Avery Murray.
All three have a chance to be a factor in the fall, and the extra work should mean more for them than anyone.
3. Who becomes Chris Turner’s top target?
Maryland probably won’t have an obvious No. 1 receiver like Darrius Heyward-Bey was, though savvy sophomore Torrey Smith is the most likely of anyone to assume such a role. Ronnie Tyler should slide into Danny Oquendo’s third-down role rather comfortably.
Two guys totally worth watching are redshirt freshmen Kerry Boykins and Kevin Dorsey – bank on at least one and possibly both emerging as crucial factors beginning in the next few weeks.
4. Does Maryland have an offensive line or an offensive line?
This one won’t be answered until the fall, but after a senior-laden group turned out to be fairly mediocre last season, there will be plenty of attention paid to a unit filled with guys who couldn’t get on the field a year ago. The Terps are fortunate they have hulking left tackle Bruce Campbell to plug in to protect Turner’s blind side, and Phil Costa will start at either guard or center before all is decided.
One guy to keep an eye on going forward is guard Justin Lewis, who might have been good enough to play in 2008 as a true freshman. Lewis isn’t part of the 2007 o-line recruiting class – Tyler Bowen, Joe Faiella, Bearthur Johnson, Stephen St. John, Lamar Young – that is clearly on the spot going forward.
5. What’s the backup plan to Chris Turner?
Josh Portis has transferred down. Jordan Steffy’s career is over after having seemingly spent a decade in College Park. That means Chris Turner is the undisputed starter entering spring practice – and quarterback might be less in question for the Terps now than at any point since Scott McBrien entered his senior season in 2003.
Of course, things happen, and Maryland has made it through just one of the last five seasons with the same starting quarterback for every game (2006 with Sam Hollenbach). So there should be some attention paid to Jamarr Robinson, who is the current No. 2 quarterback but has never taken a snap under center in a college game.
True, there’s two freshmen coming in to replenish the position. But here’s guessing Ralph Friedgen and James Franklin will sleep better this summer if they know Robinson can be a capable backup in case Turner faces an injury this season.