Maryland spring game fit to be tied

Maryland spring game fit to be tied
April 12, 2013, 9:15 pm
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COLLEGE PARK -- 'Bet I know who wins.'

That's the easy joke, heading into any intrasquad scrimmage.

But if you dropped that crowd-pleaser in College Park tonight, well, the joke's on you.

The Maryland Terrapins played themselves to a 13-13 draw on Friday night, with the first and second teams matching up against one another to tell us nothing we didn't already know.

"I was very impressed with the effort, the intensity," said head coach Randy Edsall. "I couldn't be more pleased with what's taken place over the 15 days we had this spring."

Maybe so, but not much was different from the end of last season -- the quarterback play was inconsistent, the running backs accumulated serious yardage, and budding star Stefon Diggs looked like the fastest player on the field by half.

The crowd of Terps faithful -- generously announced at 8,200 -- witnessed a sluggish first half, with the two squads combining for five punts and three points behind a pair of quarterbacks who struggled to find a rhythm in the offense. 

Quarterback Ricardo Young, leading the first-team offense for Offensive Coordinator Mike Locksley's White team with starter C.J. Brown limited by injury, absorbed five sacks and ran out of bounds for a sixth negative-yardage play as his team nonetheless crept out to a 3-0 halftime lead. 

His counterpart, Lewis & Clark College transfer Dustin Dailey, couldn't ignite much more for Defensive Coordinator Brian Stewart's Red team, as he started 4-10 for 30 yards and an interception.

No other quarterbacks saw action, as each of last year's signal callers has been limited this spring recovering from season-ending injuries. Linebacker/part-time quarterback Shawn Petty took a couple of redzone snaps in a wishbone formation, but Edsall dismissed the package as "fun stuff for the fans here tonight."

Things opened up in the second half, however, as running backs Brandon Ross (White team) and Albert Reid (Red team) found plenty of rushing room, as head coach Randy Edsall limited each defense to conservative schemes.

Both backs carried a heavy load, with starter Ross carrying 19 times for 122 yards, and Reid carrying 22 times for 135 yards. Reid also chipped in a 23-yard option pass for the game's first touchdown and a 7-3 lead early in the third quarter.

Star wideout Stefon Diggs, an honorable mention All-ACC pick as a true freshman last season, warmed up in the second half as well.

Though none of the many punts were returned during the game, he broke several big plays and at least six pairs of ankles, as he was rarely brought down by the initial defender. Diggs finished with eight catches for 159 yards, including a 51-yard catch and run that ended with a touchdown.

Diggs highlights a position group that includes five-star junior college transfer Deon Long, making wide receiver the undisputed strength of the 2013 Maryland Terrapins -- though Long had a relatively quiet night, netting 10 yards with a pair of catches. 

"[Long's] an electrifying guy," said Diggs. "He brings something to the table that we didn't have before. We can stretch the ball down the field, with Nigel King as well." 

Despite Diggs' huge night, Dailey and the second-string offense were in position to win the game with a first down on the White four yard line and just over a minute left. Three straight Reid runs netted zero yards, however, and backup kicker Brendan Magistro's field goal attempt was blocked as time expired. 

Though the score declared no winners tonight, enough weapons stood out to offer cautious optimism for the upcoming football season. Diggs, the brightest beacon, feels it, and offered a prediction of things to come.

"We've got a lot more threats; Deon Long, Nigel King, Marcus Leak... We have an electrifying offense, and I know we're going to go bowling this year."