Basketball is done and over in the Baltimore/D.C. corridor (shedding tears is acceptable), which means it is time to look to football.
Yes, the sport that won’t actually begin its season for another five months.
After mostly ignoring spring football (Maryland’s already wedged three practices in before a hiatus this week for break and Navy just got underway Monday), it’s time to take a look at the state of affairs of both of the teams in the immediate D.C. area.
These will be quick breakdowns. Look for more in-depth analysis in the summer once things are sorted out a bit (no doubt more publicly and specifically in Annapolis than College Park)
First up: Navy’s secondary, followed later in the day by Maryland’s.
Starters returning (4): CB David Sperry (70 tackles, 4 TFL, 2 INT, 12 games started), S Tra’ves Bush (93 tackles, 4 TFL, 2 INT, 10 games started), S Chris Ferguson (43 tackles, 2 INT, 7 games started), CB Parrish Gaines (30 tackles, 1 TFL, 5 games started)
Other notable returnees: CB Jonathan Wev (5 tackles, 1 game started), S Wave Ryder (16 tackles)
Starters lost (1): S Kwesi Mitchell (58 tackles, 2 INT, 11 games started)
Other notable departures: CB David Wright (graduation), S Shawn Lynch (shifted to offense)
New names to know: CB Albrey Felder (junior), S Lonnie Richardson (sophomore)
Career starts returning: 37 (Sperry 12, Bush 12, Ferguson 7, Gaines 5, Wev 1)
Career starts lost: 32 (Mitchell 25, Wright 7)
This is nothing like a year ago, when the Midshipmen were quite untested in the secondary beyond Mitchell. The entire starting secondary from the season-ending victory over Army is in place, and all four figure to play significant roles in 2012.
Both sophomore starters – Ferguson at safety, Gaines at cornerback – slid into the lineup midway through last season. Ferguson had an interception return for a touchdown to go with a forced fumble in his first start, and Gaines acclimated himself to extended playing time after appearing sparingly early in the season.
Sperry rather quietly went about his business last season after working primarily on special teams earlier in his career. Bush, meanwhile, shifts back to the rover position after working at outside linebacker for much of last season as Navy attempted to put an optimal lineup on the field.
Perhaps the biggest difference between this spring and last is the presence of defensive coordinator Buddy Green, whose responsibilities include coaching the secondary. Green missed most of last spring after undergoing gall bladder surgery.
Of course, the Mids aren’t trying to break in three starters this spring, either. That’s the good part. The priority, though, will be improving a pass efficiency defense that ranked a feeble 105th nationally a year ago.
Given the inexperience throughout the season – both with Lynch, Sperry and Wright at the start of the year and Ferguson and Gaines in the middle of it – a rough patch was to be expected. This group, however, should be better equipped to handle a full season, especially after playing together throughout this spring.