Ah, the spring game: the ultimate conclusion for spring football, full of second-string players with gaudy stats and first-string players filling our heads with unreasonable expectations (see: Maryland's defensive line last year). Maryland's spring game takes place tomorrow, finishing off the spring practice period for the Terps and being one of the first times fans can see what's happened to the team over the past month or two. Here's a quick guide of things to keep an eye on.
- Jamarr Robinson vs. Danny O'Brien. Jamarr is the supposed starter right now, but Danny O'Brien will be given his shot. The spring game is technically the same as any other practice, but it's the most important practice of the spring. It'll be a great barometer to see how far Jamarr is ahead of Danny, if he is ahead at all.
- Breakout candidates. They'll be everywhere, trust me; at least two players will emerge from this spring game as blog favorites. They always do. The spring game is the stage many an improved player takes to show off how much better they've become with a great, out-of-nowhere performance. Sometimes, they live up to it - like Da'Rel Scott's 101 yard performance. Sometimes, they don't - think Morgan Green's 92-yard day. All the time, they excite us. Some major possibilities: Drew Gloster, Bradley Johnson, Dexter McDougle, D.J. Adams, Matt Furstenburg, Ryan Donahue, and Darin Drakeford.
- An offensive change here or there. Spring games are incredibly vanilla, so don't expect too many trick plays or exciting new offensive strains. But Ralph Friedgen has repeatedly said that he intends to a) move back to a simpler offense, and b) move away from the "pro-style" form of yore, if only a little. Does that mean spread? Maybe; the new QB recruiting strategy certain leans that way. So while we probably wouldn't see a ton new at the spring game in terms of offensive plays, it's worth keeping an eye on. And maybe it'll resemble the actual offense more than most years.
- The defensive line - but not too much. Last year, we saw (through Terrapins Rising) an amazing defensive line performance, demonizing the offensive line with amazing blitz packages and pressuring the quarterback. at the time, we thought it was great, but then we learned the DL was awesome because the OL was terrible. The defensive line only lost one difficult to replace player in Travis Ivey, so it has the potential to be a relative strong spot of the team. If they dominate, though, we now know to temper our expectations.
- Da'Rel Scott's status. Scott is a sleeper All-ACC candidate this year, and was a legitimate contender last season - he was even on the Doak Walker watchlist. But even had he been entirely healthy last season (he wasn't), it's doubtful he would've received a ton of playing time. Why? Fumbles. It got so bad that he even got pulled from a couple games due to too many fumbles. This might seem like an overly specific thing to keep an eye on, but Scott's health and his ability to hold onto the ball might be the determining factors when it comes to his success this year (along with offensive line, of course).
- Quintin McCree and Torrey Smith. Ralph Friedgen said on more than one occasion that back-up Quintin McCree was "neck and neck" with Heisman quasi-candidate Torrey Smith, which is probably bad news for Torrey Smith. Then again, coaches are known to overly inflate players from time to time; the spring game should give us a better indicator, though it is a notoriously flawed measuring tool when it comes to judging WRs.
- Joe Vellano. Along the lines of McCree, if you listen to Ralph Friedgen, Vellano might be All-ACC next year. How much of that is Friedgen's posturing and how much is actual play by Vellano is unknown...right now. Again, the spring game will be the determiner for us fans.
Sadly, I won't be attending the game, so no first hand impressions. However, I expect plenty of these questions will be answered in the box score and game recaps alone.