- The Washington Times - Friday, August 20, 2004

Maryland quarterback Joel Statham must prove himself in today’s intrasquad scrimmage before coach Ralph Friedgen will anoint him the Terrapins’ starter.

“I want to see him perform in a scrimmage and perform well,” Friedgen said. “That’s still [a question] in the back of my mind whether he can do that. If he doesn’t do that, then someone has to make a move.”

Statham is among several players Friedgen will monitor closely in the first of two full scrimmages over the next five days as Maryland prepares for its opener against Northern Illinois on Sept.4 at Byrd Stadium. The Terps also are looking for a No.2 quarterback, No.3 running back and depth along a battered defensive line.

Maryland has installed its basic offense with one week remaining in summer workouts, but Friedgen hasn’t been pleased with it lately. The number of mistakes by leg-weary players worn from the heat has him wondering whether the youngest squad of his four-year tenure will be ready for Northern Illinois, which upset Maryland 20-13 in overtime last year.

“I just want to see how some of these guys react when the pressure’s on,” Friedgen said. “It’s amazing some of the little things they mess up on and lose focus. … I’m not down on this team at all — I’m very high on it. We have a good-looking team, but some of them don’t shave yet.’”

Statham has been the clear front-runner at quarterback throughout camp, but a poor spring game left the coach questioning whether Statham is better in practice than in games. However, Friedgen remembered how cool Statham remained despite constant blitzing at Georgia Tech last year after he replaced the injured Scott McBrien.

“I like the competition of a live scrimmage — it gives you the best game situations,” Statham said. “We haven’t been under too much heat yet, so I have a little bit to prove in a live situation.

Not that cornerback Domonique Foxworth has any sympathy. The Terps’ secondary has three new starters playing next to Foxworth but often has bested the offense in practice.

“If we do what we do right, there’s no quarterback in the country that could pick us apart,” Foxworth said.

But the Terps’ need for Statham to succeed even has defensive coordinator Gary Blackney rooting for the passer against his own unit.

“I’d like to see the quarterback do well even if it’s at our expense because we can’t win a whole bunch of games unless the quarterback situation comes to fruition,” Blackney said.

The backup quarterback derby is so close that Friedgen calls Ryan Mitch, Jordan Steffy and Sam Hollenbach “2a, b and c.” Steffy seems the hottest, but Mitch has rebounded from a poor spring.

Friedgen concedes playing Steffy as a true freshman might be ill-conceived. However, Steffy’s instincts and playbook knowledge have been so good despite a sore arm that solid scrimmages could make him No.2.

“Jordan doesn’t get shook, hangs in there and throws the ball,” Friedgen said. “He’s starting to make a move right now. I’m pretty impressed with him so far. I’m anxious to see how he’ll do in the scrimmage.”

Mitch has been getting “earholed” by blitzers during practice. He understands defenses better than before but must increase his response time.

“He’s getting better but doesn’t see things,” Friedgen said. “Maybe that will come because I’ve seen improvement.”

Keon Lattimore and J.P. Humber are competing for the No.3 running back spot behind Josh Allen and Sam Maldonado. Lattimore’s lateral speed has Friedgen ready to use the freshman.

“With a good show on Saturday, he might make a move up that running back list,” the coach said.

Notes — No spies were spotted yesterday after two were seen charting plays from nearby venues Thursday. The practice field is in the center of campus, so quarterbacks and running backs sometimes wore identical numbers last year so onlookers couldn’t decipher plays. …

Offensive tackle Lou Lombardo, defensive tackle Henry Scott and guard Russell Bonham were sidelined by heat, and guard Garrick Gligg suffered a strained groin. The morning session was shortened by 30 minutes because of heat.

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