It's too easy to try and create narratives from the yearly spring game. Maryland's annual exhibition open to the public is the first chance fans get to see the team in action, but it's still ultimately just one of many scrimmages (and many more practices) for the team in a long spring. It's a fun time each year, but it's important to keep the game in perspective.
Fans will get to see many players for the first time (including nearly the entire 2014 recruiting class, most of whom redshirted last season). Better yet, the whole thing is free -- admission, parking and giveaways for kids and the first 1,000 fans (including posters, inflatable games, face painting, vouchers for hot dogs and more).
One more thing to keep in mind -- defenses generally perform better in these kind of things, especially once Maryland's offensive injuries are taken into account. If the Terps struggle on offense in the exhibition once again, it's not necessarily a sign that the team is doomed.
Will all that being said, here are the five things I'm most excited to see this year at Byrd. Gates open at 11:30 a.m. ET with kickoff at 1 p.m. ET.
Shane Cockerille's development
The former Elite 11 quarterback saw the field last season as a redshirt freshman ... on special teams, working on the punt block unit. With presumed starter Caleb Rowe out through the spring period, Cockerille has been taking the first-team snaps at quarterback and appears to be a significantly more polished passer as a sophomore. I'm not expecting fireworks (and I'm certainly not expecting many points), but a Cockerille that can throw a bit in addition to his powerful running ability is a fun idea indeed.
Another former high-profile quarterback prospect, Ulmer switched to wide receiver as a true freshman last season, redshirting his first year on campus. His reputation has swiftly grown, and many say he's the fastest player on the roster. The St. John's prospect still needs work on his hands and route running, but he could be an explosive weapon for Mike Locksley's offense this season. This will be the first time Maryland fans get to see him play at Byrd.
The offensive line
Tackles Derwin Gray and Michael Dunn are both injured, leaving five-star redshirt freshman Damian Prince and walk-on Mike Minter as the two players likely to see the most first team snaps on Friday. Will we see a new face at the position, like Sean Christie, or will Ryan Doyle, now at guard, play some time at his old position? The storylines aren't just at tackle, however -- Doyle has received high praise for his performance at guard during camp, and could challenge Evan Mulrooney for a starting guard job opposite returning starter Andrew Zeller. At center, redshirt freshman Brendan Moore has impressed ever since he stepped onto campus last summer, but he has upperclassman Stephen Grommer to contend with.
The new 4-3 defense
Inside linebackers coach Keith Dudzinski replaced Brian Stewart as the Terps's defensive coordinator this offseason, and a scheme change swiftly followed. That means blue-chip linebackers Yannick Ngakoue and Jesse Aniebonam (both of whom made impacts last season at WILL linebacker) are now down at defensive end, while the Terps have no lack of options at the two defensive tackle positions. David Shaw, Malik Jones and Roman Braglio are just three of the options, but expect others (like Kingsley Opara) to rotate in as well.
The Tennessee transfer will not be eligible to play for Maryland this season, but he's been one of the most impressive players in camp and provides some much-needed future security for a Maryland secondary filled with upperclassmen. A blue-chip prospect out of Woodson (D.C.), Payne is one of the most talented players on the roster, and this will be the first chance for Terrapin fans to see him in uniform.