Ricardo Young, Perry Hills and the Terrapin defense have emerged as the victors of Maryland's preseason scrimmage Saturday. While the offense looked rough without quarterback C.J. Brown and star wide receiver Stefon Diggs, Young and Hills stood out as the two quarterbacks likely competing for the coveted back-up slot, while the defense piled up turnovers and sacks in droves.
Brown and Diggs both sat out, coach Randy Edsall said, because he knows how much they can bring to the table already. Subbing in for Diggs at wide receiver was true freshman DeAndre Lane, and true freshman cornerback Will Likely made a big impression in the return game in Diggs's stead. Likely returned a punt 30 yards in the first quarter, setting up the first touchdown of the day - a four-yard fade route from Caleb Rowe to Nigel King in the back of the end zone.
King made the play over Dexter McDougle, and it was the same play King beat McDougle on earlier this week. The receiver said the two of them jawed back and forth throughout the scrimmage - but it was clear it was a friendly competition.
The main attraction for fans was the battle between the quarterbacks, and there seemed to be some separation. Perry Hills went 10/19 for 90 yards and an interception (a floater to Likely), Ricardo Young was 8/16 for 111 yards with a touchdown and an interception (Alex Twine), and Caleb Rowe was 4/14 for 14 yards with a touchdown and an interception (Isaac Goins).
Young also excelled on the ground, although the substantial sack yardage balanced that out a bit. In the second quarter, Young put together a quick drive that showed his potential for big plays. After a three-yard run and an incomplete pass intended for Malcolm Culmer, Young dropped back on third-and-seven with an intense pass rush approaching. He scrambled about 15 yards backwards before rolling to the right and tossing it down the sideline. At first, it looked like he was throwing the ball away, but Albert Reid made a phenomenal play to keep it in bounds and get the first down.
"We were in a position where the other quarterbacks, they had a couple of three-and-outs," Young said. "I kind of didn't want to settle with three-and-out and it was third-and-long.
"I had told the guys that if the pocket breaks down, to work the scramble drill, and I'll find a way to get them the ball. It kind of broke down and I found a way to get out of the pocket and make a play, and that's what I wanted to come out here today and do - try and make as many plays as possible."
The next play, Young found Levern Jacobs streaking over the middle on a play-action pass for a 55-yard touchdown.
"The big thing on that play was everybody was kind of on the same page, which was a good thing" Young said. "I think, with me running the ball more so in my first couple possessions, they were kind of expecting me to run the ball when I put the ball in to the running back's pocket, so the safety kind of drew up and we hit them over the top with that pass."
The star of the day was undoubtedly outside linebacker Yannick Cudjoe-Virgil, who broke through at the WILL position with four sacks, all in the first half. The junior transfer from Seton Hill was still not completely satisfied with his performance, and said he needs to work on his pass rushing technique.
"I still think I need to develop as a player," he said. "I still think I have to work on my game, so just go back in film later today and figure what I could have done better."
Three of those sacks came against struggling right tackle Nick Klemm, who spent the whole day with the second unit. Edsall said the position battle between Klemm and Ryan Doyle is still up in the air.
"You're not going to sit here and make any decisions based just on what you saw with your naked eye," he said. "You've really got to sit down and make it a true evaluation. You've got to watch the film and factor everything into the decision, not just today, but 15 other practices that we've had."
Cudjoe-Virgil currently stands behind Marcus Whitfield at WILL and ahead of Yannick Ngakoue, a true freshman who had a solid day, pressuring the quarterback multiple times and getting past Jake Wheeler for a sack.
Doyle had his troubles too, giving up a safety when Quinton Jefferson ripped through him, sacking Caleb Rowe in the end zone. Also getting in on the sack action were redshirt freshman Roman Braglio (by way of Doyle) and true freshman Malik Jones (against Klemm).
Defensive end Zeke Riser sat out the scrimmage with an injury, and was seen on the sideline with crutches and boot. True freshman running back Jacquille Veii, one of the standouts of camp so far, was hurt during the scrimmage. Edsall said updates on both injuries and the position battles will be expected on Monday.