Portis Shows Glimpses at Terps Spring Game

A crowd of 9,300 came to watch the only Maryland football action in nearly four months Saturday for the annual Red-White football game. The crowd saw its first real glimpse of highly-touted transfer quarterback Josh Portis, who showed off his mobility with a quarterback sneak, an escaped sack and an option run – quarterback athleticism the Terps haven't seen in some time.

Though the red team scored first on an Obi Egekeze 24-yard field goal in the first quarter, the white team caught its stride in the second quarter, scoring 20 unanswered points from a 35-yard field goal from freshman Travis Baltz, a two-yard rush from freshman running back Pha'Terrell Washington, a 35-yard touchdown pass from freshman quarterback Jamarr Robinson to junior wide receiver Matt Goldberg and a 28-yard field goal from Travis Baltz before the red team scored again.

The main story of the day was, of course, the ongoing quarterback competition between leading starting candidates Jordan Steffy, a junior and Portis, a sophomore. Steffy, who finished 7-for-12 with 80 yards, a touchdown and three interceptions, did not show fans the progress that Coach Ralph Friedgen spoke of in earlier interviews, and had an altogether disappointing performance.

His top competitor, Portis, finished 5-for-12 for 104 yards and a touchdown, but gave fans an entertaining performance as he ran from sideline to sideline escaping would-be tacklers. Third-string quarterback Chris Turner performed well enough (11-15, 115 yards, one interception) to turn some heads, and, after strong performances in spring practice, may have pushed himself into a three-way quarterback race for the starting job come fall.

Afterwards, Steffy explained the quarterbacks' performance, "You want to get in a rhythm as a quarterback. When you go out and you have five different guys rotating in, it's difficult to do that."

Portis, answering a question about the difference between the spring game's one-hand touch versus tackle football, said, "I'm limited because I can't use my legs, I can only use my arm. Fall will be different because I'll be live, and I can make plays."

Third-string running back Morgan Green led rushers with 19 rushes for 93 yards. Green left the game late in the fourth quarter after suffering a broken collarbone. Starting running back Lance Ball Green joins already-injured running backs Keon Lattimore and Da'Rel Scott, leaving Lance Ball as the lone rusher for the time being, although all three may still be in action for the season opener versus Villanova on September 1. Sophomore wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey led all receivers with 97 receiving yards on two receptions, including a 68-yard touchdown catch from Josh Portis.

Kickers Travis Baltz and Obi Egekeze will battle it out for the starting job in the fall. Though Baltz handles both kicks and punts, Egekeze holds the starting kicker job. Egekeze was 1-2 with field goals, hitting a 24-yarder but missing a 42-yarder. Baltz went 2-2 with kicks from 28 and 35 yards. Neither kicker missed an extra point.

The biggest question mark heading into the fall may be the team's offensive line. Friedgen created a black team of all offensive linemen for the spring game due to a shortage of healthy linemen. This year's squad is without graduated tackle Stephon Heyer, junior guard Donnie Woods, who left to pursue a career in the military and junior tackle Jared Gaither, who was voted preseason all-ACC, was dismissed from the team to focus on academics. Meanwhile, out of the remaining offensive linemen, guard Andrew Crummey suffered a severely sprained ankle earlier this month, and Jack Griffin joined the infirm with a twisted ankle.

Regardless, fans enjoyed the 2007 Maryland Day with an array of hard hits, elusive running and effective kicking, all of which will have to tide fans over for the next few months until football season officially kicks off.

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