Unsurprisingly, Maryland opted not to reveal much about its new schemes in its spring game Saturday at Byrd Stadium.
The sliver it showed, though, lends at least some optimism for the Terrapins’ offense.
Danny O’Brien threw two touchdown passes to Ronnie Tyler and the first-team offense scored on its first three possessions as the Red team (first-team offense and defensive reserves) defeated the White team (first-team defense and offensive reserves) 35-7.
“That was just plain vanilla,” coach Randy Edsall said. “Usually in the spring game, at least the way we conduct it, the offense probably has a bit of an advantage. It’s like the Pro Bowl. You limit the things you do and it’s always a little more high scoring.”
Still, Maryland could take something from perhaps the last glimpse it offers the public before the Sept. 5 season opener against Miami.
O’Brien looked very much as he did in the latter stages of his ACC rookie of the year season last fall, starting off 6-for-8 for 130 yards and a touchdown. His first pass was a 65-yard strike to Tyler off play action in the scrimmage’s first snap.
O’Brien said the Terps utilized only about half of offensive coordinator Gary Crowton’s playbook. Still, he used it effectively, dissecting the defense on the second possession to set up a D.J. Adams 2-yard touchdown plunge.
Senior tailback Davin Meggett gave the Red team a 21-0 edge with a 15-yard scoring run late in the first quarter.
“We made some good steps in the right direction as far as being comfortable on offense with what we’re doing,” said O’Brien, who finished 16-for-23 for 199 yards. “We have a little ways to go to iron things out.”
It was a quietly strong day for Maryland’s offensive line as well. The early dominance was fueled in part by a unit that returns three starters, but also dealt with injuries during the spring.
Despite the absence of Justin Gilbert and Justin Lewis, Max Garcia (left tackle) and Josh Cary (right guard) helped the line produce a solid day.
“I think the big thing is we were able to have our ups and our downs and then come back from those downs,” left guard Andrew Gonnella said. “That was a good sign. Sometimes, when you get in a slump, it’s hard to come out of it. We were able to get back in a groove pretty easily.”
Maryland’s defensive highlight was walk-on safety Anthony Green’s 51-yard interception return for a touchdown. Cornerback Dexter McDougle capped a strong spring with an interception.
While the defense was limited in its complexity by design, it also continued a trend from recent weeks before settling in for the final three quarters.
“From a defensive standpoint, we’ve kind of started off slow in some of the scrimmages that we had so far and it was the same thing today,” Edsall said. “We were a little bit slower starting, and that’s something we’ll be sure we get corrected.”
That will wait until August, when the Terps reconvene for preseason camp. One of the final images until then will be Tyler slipping into the end zone after a slick catch in the fourth quarter.
That, he promised, was just the start for an offense he said didn’t do nearly as much Saturday as he believes it is capable of this fall.
“Not even half,” Tyler said. “It’s going to be a lot better. A lot better.”
—- Patrick Stevens