The Maryland football team played its annual White vs. Red spring game Saturday afternoon, with the red team winning, 21-16, before a few thousand fans at Byrd Stadium. Spring games are only so useful (read: not that useful) for evaluating talent, but a few players and schemes showed out. Here are some pertinent highlights from Maryland's most real game until Richmond visits town in late August:
1. Marcus Leak was a force. The junior (who will be a senior next season) was the best player in the field. Taking snaps on what sort of, kind of looked like a second-team Red offense run by quarterback Perry Hills, Leak dominated. He sliced up the White defense on zigs and zags in the open field, and he skied over cornerback Jarrett Ross for the game's prettiest catch on a second-quarter touchdown. He wound up scoring three times and racking up about 100 yards.
2. Brad Craddock is still good. It isn't surprising that the Lou Groza Award winner's rocket leg didn't totally deteriorate in the last four months, but it had to be reassuring to see Craddock drill a 50-yard field goal in the first half. There are no kickoffs in the spring game, but the last major frontier for Craddock to conquer as a kicker is getting longer on those. It seems likely he will, but even if he doesn't, Craddock's field goal-kicking should stay superlative.
3. The rest of Maryland's kicking game might not be. Craddock backup Adam Greene had a chip-shot field goal attempt blocked in the second quarter after hitting a wobbly, extra point-length try earlier. Punter Nicholas Pritchard, who's replacing the departed Nathan Renfro this spring, was shaky. He netted between 25 and 40 yards on most of his boots, none of which was hit especially well. Maryland's set to bring on true freshman punter Nick Rubinowicz in the fall, and his presence could bring on an interesting positional battle between Pritchard, Rubinowicz and Lee Shrader. Head coach Randy Edsall said the punting was "inconsistent."
4. It's still too early to assess Maryland's offensive line. Neither the Red or White units were all that good or all that bad on Saturday. Even if they were, it wouldn't have meant much. Maryland's going to be working in a heaping handful of talented but inexperienced offensive linemen this year, and most of them won't get their first meaningful collegiate game experience for another four-and-a-half months. Prized tackle Derwin Gray is down with a labrum injury, but similarly prized tackle Damian Prince got in a lot of work this spring (and Saturday). None of JaJuan Dulaney, Brendan Moore, Stephen Grommer, Maurice Shelton or Joe Marchese played much last season, but all played a lot on Saturday.
5. Maryland's got all kinds of receiving options. Stefon Diggs and Deon Long are gone, but Maryland's wide receivers could be the team's strongest positional group in 2015. Leak was, of course, outstanding on Saturday, and Maryland's going to have fine options in Juwann Winfree, LeVern Jacobs, Taivon Jacobs and Amba Etta-Tawo. Will Ulmer and DeAndre Lane – neither of whom was involved in the offense last year – were present and active in the spring game. They should help offset the losses of Diggs and Long in the upcoming season.
6. The Terps toyed around with trick plays. And why not, given that this game is mostly a showcase? The Terps let quarterback-turned-receiver Ulmer take a Wildcat-esque snap under center with Perry Hills lined up at split end and ran some direct snaps to running backs. Because of C.J. Brown's playing style and inherent mobility, Maryland didn't wade too deeply into any funky offensive sets over the last few years, opting to just let Brown take off when it suited him. Edsall said much of the trickery Saturday was just for fun, but it's something to watch.
7. Yannick Ngakoue is going to be monstrous. No, Ngakoue's spring game abuse of reserve tackle Mike Minter doesn't tell us a whole lot. He wasn't even allowed to tackle White team quarterback Cockerille on the roughly 12 occasions when he bursted past Minter and into the backfield. Ngakoue is moving from outside linebacker to defensive end in Maryland's new 4-3 defensive scheme, and Maryland doesn't have anybody on the offensive side of the ball who can stop him. The guess here is that most other teams won't, either.
8. There's still not much to make of the quarterback situation. Caleb Rowe didn't dress, so Cockerille and Hills did virtually all of the throwing. Both were rough around the edges, although Hills benefited from being able to chuck balls up in Leak's general direction and let him come down with them. Cockerille has nominally been the No. 1 quarterback this spring, but Randy Edsall has cautioned not to probe deeply into how much that billing means. Both Cockerille and Hills made some decent throws and missed their share of open receivers in the spring game, and Edsall, like with his kicking game, called their play "inconsistent." We'll see where this goes.