- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 22, 2004

Joel Statham seemingly has clinched the job as Maryland’s starting quarterback, but the Terrapins are still searching for a backup passer and a No.3 running back.

Statham virtually ended any quarterback debate yesterday by completing 11 of 19 for 145 yards during an intrasquad scrimmage while his three rivals proved lackluster.

“I was seeing things a little better,” Statham said. “Overall, it went pretty well. … [The starting job] still hasn’t been finalized, but I’ve gotten more confident, and the more time I get to play the more confidence they’ll have in me.”

Coach Ralph Friedgen wouldn’t name Statham as the starter against Northern Illinois on Sept.4 before the team’s final scrimmage Thursday. Friedgen also was uncertain over the No.2 quarterback. After saying Jordan Steffy, Ryan Mitch and Sam Hollenbach were “2a, b and c” beforehand, Friedgen hadn’t changed his opinion after the scrimmage.

Steffy completed four of five for 55 yards with one touchdown and one interception. He also scrambled four times for two yards after being flushed from the pocket in a controlled scrimmage where quarterbacks couldn’t be hit. The freshman’s finest throw might have been an alley-oop touchdown pass to receiver Drew Weatherly in the corner.

“Steffy made some mistakes, but he also made a nice throw for a touchdown,” Friedgen said. “He didn’t hang out in the pocket. He got out and scrambled, but I wasn’t disappointed in him.”

Said Steffy: “I definitely have a lot of things to improve on, but for the first time it went all right.”

Hollenbach completed five of seven for 51 yards, and Mitch was two of four for 36 yards with an 18-yard touchdown to Pascal Abiamiri.

“I started a little slow,” Mitch said, “but overall I came on at the end.”

Meanwhile, Friedgen was disappointed that no one earned the No.3 running back slot. With starter Josh Allen and backup Sam Maldonado getting a token three carries each, the Terps ran J.P. Humber and Mario Merrills extensively.

Humber gained 94 yards with two touchdowns on 14 carries, and Merrills had 79 yards and three touchdowns on 16 carries. Most of their success came against second- and third-team defenses as the starting defense largely stuffed the run.

“I really wanted to see who was going to win that third team spot and wasn’t overly impressed with anybody,” Friedgen said.

Humber, who suffered a minor shoulder injury, felt no one gained an edge.

“There’s no clear cut No.3,” he said. “We’re all doing that good and we’re all doing that bad.”

The scrimmage featured numerous offside penalties and seven turnovers. The defense opened with a pair of safeties against the first and second offenses.

“As the scrimmage went on, the offense got better,” Friedgen said. “I was disappointed with the penalties we had.”

Notes — Running back Keon Lattimore may miss the season after suffering a dislocated shoulder Friday. The freshman was a serious contender for No.3 running back but might be redshirted because of surgery or a long rehabilitation. … Cornerback Reuben Haigler strained a hamstring, and cornerback Josh Wilson suffered a bruised knee. Receiver Steve Suter (knee), defensive tackle Jack Griffin (high ankle sprain) and fullback Jon Gruber (concussion) were withheld.

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