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Maryland spring football game takeaways

- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 21, 2012

Maryland's spring game came and went Saturday before about 2,000 at Byrd Stadium, with a pair of touchdowns (a Brandon Ross run and a pass from Ricky Schultz to Nigel King) and one field goal accounting for all of the conventional scoring.

The Terrapins used a modified scoring system, with the defense erasing a 20-point deficit en route to a 67-53 victory.

As for actual takeaways from the Terps' activities from Saturday, here are five observations as Maryland heads into the summer. ...

1. Living (long-term) injury-free. Spring football wrapped up without any major impact on next season.

The spring game had its share of annoying injuries, such as ankle sprains for nose tackle Darius Kilgo and defensive end Marcus Whitfield and an elbow injury for Marcus Leak.

The last month also had its share of aggravations, with defensive end Joe Vellano (foot) missing the last half of spring ball and wideout Kerry Boykins missing some time with a concussion.

The lone surgery on the horizon is scheduled for the first week of May, when tight end Devonte Campbell will have a sports hernia operated upon.

About the only lingering question marks are when linebacker Kenny Tate, wideout Tyrek Cheeseboro and defensive back Makinton Dorleant will return from knee injuries. Each of them underwent surgery in the fall.

On paper, at least, it does not appear ailments suffered several months before the season will have a massive impact on Maryland's wins and losses.

"You always want to come out without having surgical issues with any player," coach Randy Edsall said. "We've been blessed from that standpoint."

2. Stout defense. In a related note, the starting offense managed one touchdown in nine possessions on the day --- and that came against the starting defense.

The meaning of those results are in the eyes of the beholder. But it should be noted the defense played without linebackers Darin Drakeford and Kenny Tate and defensive end Joe Vellano.

"We played without arguably three of our best players on defense," nose tackle A.J. Francis said. "Without those three guys and still playing well, it shows how good our defense can be."

3. Kicking matters. One thing far from solved for the Terps are the kicking duties, which were handled by walk-on Michael Tart and redshirt freshman Nathan Renfro on Saturday.

Last year, Nick Ferrara handled both duties as well as kickoffs. He missed the spring with a hip injury.

"That's going to be a competition in terms of who is going to be the punter, who is going to be the kickoff guy and who is going to be the field goal guy," Edsall said. "That will all continue as we get back here in August and we'll see where we are."

Both specialists had notable moments Saturday. Renfro uncorked a 63-yard punt while Tart connected on a 48-yard field goal.

4. Tagged for sacks. Under the modified scoring rules that reward things like long plays for the offense and turnovers for the defense, more mundane achievements were bound to make a difference.

The offense picked up a point for every first down, of which there were 26. The defense, meanwhile, tacked on 26 points for its 13 sacks.

With the quarterbacks wearing noncontact jerseys, it became measurably easier to collect sacks. The defense was credited with six in the final quarter alone.

"They had a quick whistle today with some, and some we can understand," quarterback C.J. Brown said. "There's nothing we can do about that. I can't control [that]. They've done that every scrimmage. It's just part of the thing. It's unfortunate that every single sack, they got points for that."

5. Captains of the ship. Maryland named its four captains before the scrimmage: Quarterback C.J. Brown, wide receiver Kevin Dorsey, linebacker Demetrius Hartsfield and defensive end Joe Vellano.

Vellano will be a captain for the second straight season. Brown, a redshirt junior, is the lone non-senior in the group. Hartsfield owns 29 career starts, the most of the group (Vellano has 25, Dorsey 11 and Brown five).

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