Spring Update: Maryland

Coming off a surprising 9-4 season featuring a bowl win over Purdue, expectations are once again high in College Park.

Emotions are plainly visible with Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen.

He never hides disappointment.

This spring has caused plenty of concern. A combination of injuries, a few fights during one practice and lack of leadership from veterans has tried his patience.

The Terps, who completed spring drills with their annual game April 28, have left Friedgen shaking his head.

"I can tolerate the younger guys' mistakes, that's going to happen. But when guys who are starters make mental mistake after mental mistake, it tells me their head's not into it," said Friedgen, after one practice. "If we do that, we won't be a very good football team.

He's also had zero tolerance for scuffles during practice, making both the combatants and teammates run sprints after practice as punishment.

"We've got to be able to control our emotions," Friedgen said. "There's a new emphasis on fighting this year, I think because of the Miami thing, especially in the ACC. They're going to lose kids for a couple of games. We can't afford to lose anybody."

Friedgen films all fights at practices and scrimmages.

Keep in mind Maryland will feature two experienced running backs with plenty of talent in Lance Ball and Keon Lattimore (pictured above).
"I told them, we're going to punish the whole team because the whole team is going to suffer for that," Friedgen said. "Probably it was good it came up. ... Maybe it's good that happened. Maybe we can learn from it. Hopefully, we can. I don't know how you stop those things, but you got to try."

The Terps are trying to reach higher after a 9-4 season which finished one win shy of entrance into the ACC championship game as a division champ.

"We had a good season," said Friedgen, looking back on a year which included a bowl win against Purdue. "We had a chance to make it a real special season, but came up just a little short.

"Hopefully, that will help motivate guys ..."

Friedgen will be looking closely at motivation at quarterback, where Jordan Steffy looks to fill the shoes of Sam Hollenbach, who recently signed a free agent contract with the Washington Redskins.

The good news is Steffy will have the luxury of playing with nearly every productive offensive starter from a year ago. The bad news is he has little experience and hasn't looked impressive in limited playing time.

SPRING UPDATES: TB Lance Ball -- The senior picked up from his strong effort last year, when he led Maryland in rushing. He was especially strong in the team's final scrimmage before the spring game. Keep in mind Maryland will feature two experienced backs with plenty of talent in Ball and Keon Lattimore.

QB Josh Portis -- The transfer from Florida struggled at the start of spring, and has been prone to turnovers, but has shown enough potential to give Maryland coaches hope he can battle incumbent Jordan Steffy for starting job.

DB Jamari McCollough -- He shown playmaking ability and solid cover skills during scrimmages, highlighting a defense that has been ahead of the offense.

SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: Seven starters return, including the backfield tandem of Lance Ball and Keon Lattimore. The receivers and running backs who are returning produced nearly the entire offensive production last year. But everything will depend on how quickly the quarterback can develop. Is Jordan Steffy ready to take over? If not, the Terps could be in trouble.

SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: Major holes to fill. The Terps will miss S Josh Wilson, a likely high-round draft pick. They must also revamp linebackers and defensive line.

SCOUTING THE SPECIAL TEAMS: This is the biggest concern, aside from quarterback. The Terps have to replace All-ACC P Adam Podlesh. PK Obi Egekeze has never attempted a field goal in a game. He replaces Dan Enis.

WORTH NOTING: A load of injuries hit during spring drills. OG Andrew Crummey, a starter, missed spring practices with a severely sprained left ankle. OT Jared Gaither sat out for academic reasons. At one point in spring, Maryland's offensive line composed of a walk-on, a left tackle who never started a game and three other players who have combined for just 21 career starts. TB Da'Rel Scott partially tore cartilage in his left knee and missed the late stages of spring drills. Starting CB Richard Taylor also injured his left knee and missed the final week of spring.

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