Maybe it's faulty memory, but I can't recall a more stealth spring practice in the Testudo Era than this one. The reasons are obvious, I guess: last year was terrible, a good ten 15% of the team transfered, there are almost no exciting position battles due to lack of depth, and the rabble is still largely anti-Edsall (with some not-anti-but-also-not-pro-Edsall stragglers). Pour it all together and you get some conditions ripe for boring, under-the-radar spring football, no matter how many YouTube videos Randy Edsall's interns upload.
I mean, the spring game is tomorrow and we've talked about spring football, what, like five times? Usually to update on injuries? Ehhhh.
But, hey, the good news is that the spring game is tomorrow, and being the public's first real look at this year's team, it should provide some of the first real excitement of the spring. It's like a real game! (Only with fake scoring systems because there aren't enough players to have two full separate teams and the quarterback isn't allowed to be touched because he's our only one.) Hey: I take what I can get here.
The game kicks off on Saturday at 1:00, with free admission. The gates open at 11:00, if you're interested in baking in the sun (or rain, or snow, or whatever crazy weather you lot back home are having) for two hours waiting to watch a scrimmage. For those like me who live states away ... sorry, you're out of luck. No TerpsTV stream for this. But there'll be radio coverage on WJZ in Baltimore, and you should be able to listen live on their website.
With any luck, the game will be interesting and insightful enough to tell us something about this year's team, which is a vastly different-looking bunch from last season's 2-10 squad. I have a few questions in particular I'm looking to have answered:
What do the new schemes look like? Two new coordinators means two new schemes, and we're not exactly sure what either one will look like. Mike Locksley's new offense will be similar to Gary Crowton's scheme from last year, just hopefully not obsessed with bubble screens. Brian Stewart's 3-4 look, meanwhile, is a significant departure from Todd Bradford's patented Whatever The Hell That Was defense. The ol' saying is that the defense is usually ahead of the offense at this point, but that strikes me as unlikely with the vast changes on that side of the ball.
The offense will probably try to keep it mostly vanilla, to prevent William and Mary's and Temple's peering eyes from getting an early idea of what it is. The defense should be a more open affair. Hopefully we'll have a better idea on what to expect on both counts.
How does C.J. Brown look? The most obvious of obvious questions, the progress of Maryland's new field general is going to be the biggest storyline on the team until they kick off against W&M. CJB was sporadic last year, showcasing unparalleled athleticism, game-breaking ability on the run, and an arm that was surprisingly strong (at times). Problem is, that was accompanied by inconsistency, questionable decision-making, and iffy accuracy. Getting substantial first-team snaps, not having to look over his shoulder, and having a more cohesive offensive gameplan - that is, actually letting the running quarterback run - should all help, as should natural progression. But how much C.J. improves will likely define Maryland's success this year.
Remember, Mike Locksley has worked with a CJB-type before, when Juice Williams was at Illinois, and Locks helped transform Juice from a poor man's C.J. to a half-decent throwing QB, going for upwards of 3,000 yards in his junior year and with a completion rate of nearly 60%. If C.J. could put up close to those numbers, Maryland might just have something here.
What about everyone who's changed positions? And there are a good number of them. Nate Clarke, formerly a promising offensive lineman, has switched over to nose tackle. A.J. Hendy's moved from safety to corner. Marcus Whitfield and Clarence Murphy, formerly defensive ends, have moved back a spot to be the rush linebacker in the 3-4. Basically no one on the offensive line has a set position anymore. Seeing how players have settled into their new digs will be actually be supremely interesting, especially with Whitfield and Murphy - with Darin Drakeford out they'll be the primary guys at WILL, and both are athletic pass-rushing types well-suited to the position (Whitfield especially).
How do the newbies fare? The great thing about absolutely no depth: your young guns get snaps. By my count, Maryland will be debuting 12 new players in the spring game, including highly-regarded wide receiver Nigel King, JuCo transfer Isaac Goins, and a whole host of offensive linemen. And that doesn't include a bunch of young and unproven sophomores, like Murphy, Devin Burns, and Marcus Leak. I'm actually kind of excited to see them in action, even if Stefon Diggs and Wes Brown are still a few months away.
Who are the breakout performers? Remember Joe Vellano's insane spring two years ago, when he went from nobody to superstar? It's rare to have anything that big - last year's spring star might've been Kevin Dorsey, but he was already fairly well-established - and this year's it's been relatively quiet again. Still, good things are being said about Brandon Ross - Mike Locksley calls him a "three-down back" - and Demetrius Hartsfield, who's apparently impressed Edsall. Unexpectedly large performances from either could be a sign of things to come.
And that's that. We'll try to do a recap after the game is over, but the lack of a stream anywhere will make it tough - no promises. If you go and want to share your thoughts in a FanPost, we'd be much obliged.