It’s a week into camp at Maryland, and although there isn’t an updated depth chart to work with, there’s enough that has been said to read into what’s going on at several positions.
If there’s something Ralph Friedgen wants more than anything, it’s to have multiple options at every position. Technically, there are always options; sometimes, though, those options aren’t that appetizing.
So for this afternoon, here’s a look at how the defense is unfolding a little more than a week into camp; it’ll be the offense’s turn tomorrow.
Defensive end: Senior Mack Frost has sat out the last few days because of an accumulation of fluid in his knee. Friedgen said he was advised to let the fluid drain on its own, and Frost is coming off knee surgery last year. In his stead, Deege Galt and Jared Harrell are receiving plenty of reps.
Nose tackle: One of the guys enjoying a good camp is Travis Ivey, who seems to have overcome a mild aversion to physical play this month. At some positions, that might not be a huge thing. But with a nose tackle, that’s sort of a problem. He’s moved past Dion Armstrong, but it could be a while before he supplants Bemi Otulaja.
Defensive tackle: Not a day goes by without hearing good things about Jeremy Navarre. This is probably the most settled position on defense, though Dean Muhtadi will play as well. While on the subject of tackles, Friedgen keeps praising freshmen Masengo Kabongo and A.J. Francis. Francis, in particularly, keeps coming up.
LEO: It’s time to talk about splitting time at a linebacker position. It will soon become a boring refrain. Trey Covington was held out of practice again today, giving Rick Costa more reps after he missed the spring.
Strong-side linebacker: Probably the best 1-2 on the defense, Moise Fokou and Adrian Moten are near-certain to split time throughout the season. Although this hasn’t been mentioned during camp, Moten’s success in pass rush situations last year make him especially ideal for use on third downs.
Weak-side linebacker: This is still up for grabs between Dave Philistin and Chase Bullock, and looks like it has a chance to be a time-share. A possibility for down the road: Demetrius Hartsfield, a freshman who enrolled in the spring.
Middle linebacker: Alex Wujciak will start here, and Friedgen indicated both Philistin and Bullock could be used as a backup with redshirt freshman Ben Pooler struggling a bit. While that isn’t good for Pooler, it will ensure a proven commodity like Philistin can pick up a few extra snaps each game.
Cornerbacks: Nolan Carroll is enjoying a fine camp, and he is probably a favorite along with Kevin Barnes to start the opener. But it’s not like there has been talk of Anthony Wiseman or Richard Taylor struggling, either. A freshman who has shown some things is Cameron Chism.
Free safety: Terrell Skinner has achieved some separation over Antwine Perez, an interesting development since one is a former wideout and the other is a former Southern Cal uber-recruit. Skinner has a chance to be a very intriguing player once the season begins, especially if the part-time 3-3-5 defense allows him to be used more frequently on the blitz.
Strong safety: Veteran Jeff Allen is the likely starter; the greater question is figuring out who among Drew Robinson, Jamari McCollough and Kenny Tate will be the backup.
—- Patrick Stevens