How did the Maryland Terrapins do in their second preseason scrimmage? We grade their performance Saturday at Byrd Stadium.
Stefon Diggs (A+). The freshman returned a punt for a touchdown and a kickoff for a touchdown. He also had an 11-yard touchdown reception and might have had another go the distance as he broke into the clear on a go-route, but was overthrown by Perry Hills.
Perry Hills (A-). The freshman quarterback turned several potential losses into gains. Hills has nice size to stand up to a rush and enough quickness to elude pass rushers. The big question concerns his arm. Most of his throws were short. The one long pass he threw was five yards beyond the reach of Diggs. Hills didn’t throw any deep out routes or anything that might have demonstrated (or exposed) his arm strength. Hills may be more like C.J. Brown than anyone thinks.
Receiving corps (B+). It was a weakness last year, but might be a strength in 2012. Somehow the group appeared more in synch with Hills and Rowe than they did last year with Danny O’Brien and Brown. There were few dropped passes or balls thrown where receivers should have been. Senior Kevin Dorsey is the most polished of the group, followed by Kerry Boykins. Several inexpereinced wideouts look ready to contribute including Diggs, Levern Jacobs (69-yard touchdown reception) and Nigel King.
Front seven on defense (B). Out of their new 3-4 set, the Terps applied consistent pressure and were stout against the run. Linebacker Darin Drakeford (three sacks) was disruptive and produced the lone touchdown for the defense, stripping Hills, scooping the ball, and carrying it 18 yards.
Devin Burns (B). The sophomore quarterback, four days removed from a switch from wideout, had a 54-yard touchdown run and made few mistakes, surprising coach Randy Edsall with his comfort level at his old position. “I think it tells you something about the young man from the standpoint that he know all the routes, where everybody is and really the reads from that. It tells you he’s paying attention,” Edsall said. “Devin is a very unassuming guy, and there was no pressure on him. The thing that’s really been good is he’s handled all the snaps, the ball hasn’t been on the ground.”
Kickers (B). Edsall held kicker/punter Nick Ferrara out of the scrimmage, leaving placement and punting duties to true freshman Brad Craddock, who booted a 30-yard field goal, and redshirt freshman Nathan Renfro. The Terps didn’t miss an extra point and their punting was solid.
Caleb Rowe (B-). The freshman backup quarterback doesn’t appear to have the playmaking ability of Hills, but has plenty of zip on his passes and good accuracy. His reads need some work however. He was intercepted once by Makinton Dorleant, albeit on the final play of the first half, and threw another potential interception into the arms of Dorleant who dropped the ball.
Offensive line (C-). The Terps blockers gave little room for the backs to operate and were inconsistent in pass blocking. Getting this unit up to speed with new bookend tackles will be difficult, though one of them, Justin Gilbert, coming off two ACL surgeries, has the experience and fire to lead.
Running backs (D+). It was hard to evaluate the running backs, because they got such little daylight. Starter Brandon Ross sparked the offense on the first possession, taking a screen pass 20 yards. But his eight carries in the first half produced a total of just four yards. Freshman Wes Brown had an 11-yard dash on his first carry.
Secondary (D-). Most of the big plays surrendered by the defense resulted from shoddy work in the backfield – poor coverage and weak tackling. With safety Matt Robinson (shoulder) on the sidelines and safety A.J. Hendy (ankle) hurt in the first half, the Terps were shorthanded however. Fans expecting help in the secondary from former All-ACC safety Kenny Tate, now a linebacker, shouldn’t hold their breath. Tate (knee) sat out the scrimmage, raising questions about his readiness to play this year.