Defense Prevails in Terps Spring Game

C.J. Brown finished the day 17-for-33 with 199 yards passing for the Terps in their Spring Game.

The Maryland Football team ended spring practice with its Red-White Football game, pitting the offense against the defense and using a modified scoring system. And while the offense led by as many as 19 points in the second quarter, it was the defense that shined late and came out on top, winning 67-53.

The new scoring system awarded points to the offense for things like first downs, long runs, and long passes, while the defense earned points for plays like turnovers, three-and-outs, and sacks. The first and second teams for each side took turns on the field, changing with each possession. The offense suited up in white, while the defense wore red.

The guys had a lot of fun out there today,” said Head Coach Randy Edsall. “Overall I thought we've had a really good spring.”

Just three traditional scoring plays happened in the game, accounting for 17 of the White Team's points. QB C.J. Brown led the first-string offense, passing for 199 yards on 17-of-33 passing for the day, and had a 33-yard rush. However, Brown threw the games only interception when DB Dexter McDougle picked him off in the second quarter.

RB Brandon Ross punched in a 1-yard rushing touchdown in the first quarter, helping the White Team jump out to a 20-6 lead through the first 15 minutes. The games only other touchdown came when QB Ricky Shultz threw a nine-yard pass to WR Nigel King in the end zone. The score came minutes after Shultz connected with TE Ryan Schlothauer for a 43-yard completion, part of his 146 yards on 13-for-19 passing.

“It's just nice to see him go and have some success today,” Randy Edsall said of the walk-on Shultz, whom he called the MVP of the spring. “He won't be with us any longer, but it's good for him to get out there, and help us in the spring.”

The only field goal of the game came when PK Michael Tart kicked a 48-yarder to open up a 34-16 lead for the White Team. But the defense struck back, ending the half with A.J. Francis blocking a field goal attempt. Last season's kicker Nick Ferrara was out all spring with an injury, and Edsall said that come fall, “there will be a competition in terms of who's going to be the punter, who's going to be the kickoff guy, and who's going to be the field goal guy.”

The second half belonged to the defense, as the Red Team outscored the White Team 34-20. Brown said that his team “kept shooting itself in the foot with penalties” in the half, adding that some players weren't on the same page with signals.

“We just didn't come out in the second half with the same mindset that we needed to and we weren't able to finish,” said Brown. “That's on me and on the offense and we have to pick that up because that can't happen.”

The defense was led by LB Demetrius Hartsfield, who had a team-high 12 tackles on the day. LB L.A. Goree had eight tackles and four sacks, while McDougle and LB Bradley Johnson each had seven tackles.

“It makes you really think about how good we can be because arguably three of our best players on our defense - Joe Vellano, Kenny Tate, and Darin Drakeford - weren't in the game,” said DL A.J. Francis, who finished with three tackles.

The offensive players were a little upset about what they thought were several quick whistles that were ruled sacks on C.J. Brown, who was under extra no-contact precaution because of the team's thin depth at quarterback.

I took a lot of heat because some of those sacks probably wouldn't be sacks with C.J. in there,” said Edsall.

Still, the defense was proud of its effort.

“We didn't back down, we came back, fought and it was a close game in the end but the Red Team prevailed. I think the defense came together today,” said McDougle.

Other notable players in the game were RB Justus Pickett, who rushed for 74 yards on 18 carries, RB Brandon Ross, who had 46 yards on 14 carries, and TE Matt Furstenburg who caught five catches for 53 yards, including a 26-yard gain.

I'm really proud on how the guys fought,” said OL Justin Gilbert. “We don't have a lot of depth in the offensive line right now. We have a lot of freshmen who have stepped up and had a good spring too, so I am pretty optimistic going into summer camp.”

Summer camp is the next step for the Terps, who will look to build off spring practice as they get ready for the 2012 season. Brown called the spring “a great first step,” and said everyone has bought in and is moving in the right direction. Edsall agreed, saying he is “very, very pleased” with what took place.

“We knew coming into spring that I wasn't looking to be a finished product by the end of spring, and they'll do hard work over the summer,” said Edsall. “We'll go forward and take a look at what we do best and be ready to implement those things in the fall."

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