Maryland football held its second scrimmage of preseason camp Saturday afternoon with less than two weeks until the season opener against West Virginia. Similar to the first scrimmage which happened one week ago, head coach Mike Locksley once again came away was pleased with his team’s efforts.
“It was a good day for us today as a team, you know, this was our last opportunity to get inside The Shell and scrimmage really before our next opportunity against West Virginia, September 4, as we kind of wind down camp,” Locksley said.
The coach noted that the scrimmage was cut short due to lightning in the area, but said that his team ran nearly 100 plays and only “missed a couple of segments of it” overall.
With collegiate football officially on the horizon, let’s take a look at a few storylines from Maryland’s second preseason scrimmage.
Locksley listed three players that are acting as leaders on the field
With two preseason scrimmages under Maryland’s belt, Locksley shared three specific players on the roster that have been taking significant leadership roles.
Graduate student defensive lineman Sam Okuayinonu, or “Sam O” as Locksley called him, was the first name that came from the coach’s mouth when he was asked about potential leaders on the team.
“Sam O. is one of those guys that really kind of jumps out to me and it’s mostly because he’s not a vocal guy, he’s one of those guys that typically leads by example but I really see him trying to be that leader,” the head coach said.
Locksley then listed junior offensive lineman Spencer Anderson as another player who has been leading on the field and verbally as well. Anderson has been in the program since 2018 and Locksley mentioned how he’s starting to take control of the offensive line upfront for the upcoming year.
The coach finished with listing redshirt senior running back Tayon Fleet-Davis as a team leader. Locksley said that Fleet-Davis has been doing a “great job” in that regard and he will likely continue to be a strong voice out of the backfield.
The head coach shed some light on the program’s return game
Locksley cleared up some of Maryland’s special teams towards the end of the press conference, stating some of the team’s returners on kick returns and punts.
He named sophomore wide receiver Rakim Jarrett, senior Dontay Demus Jr. and sophomore running back Isaiah Jacobs as the primary kickoff return guys. Jacobs had the most kickoff return touches by far in 2020, taking back nine kicks for an average of 16.33 yards. The next highest amount of kickoff return touches from an individual player was wide receiver DeJuan Ellis, who had four returns with an average of 14.75 per return.
Regarding the punt return unit, Locksley preached that he is trying to get his skill players on the perimeter more in 2021. He once again named Jarrett, then listed junior wide receiver Jeshaun Jones and sophomore wide receiver DeaJaun McDougle.
Jones was the featured punt returner last season for Maryland. He was the only Terp to catch a punt in 2020, taking just two returns for five total yards on the year.
McDougle, unlike Jones, didn't return any punts last season and will seemingly be the third option on the punt return team. Locksley did speak highly of McDougle, though, and said that he has the ability to be an “explosive” returner.
The team’s penalty discipline is improving, but it remains an issue for now
One of the big storylines from last Saturday’s scrimmage was the excess penalties the team was taking on the field. Locksley said his players were trending in the right direction this week, though.
“We have referees at every practice and we’ve done a pretty good job this week of limiting them,” Locksley said.
Despite the improvement, the head coach noted that he’s still seeing some of the same penalties such as false starts or lining up in the neutral zone. Most of the penalties, however, were committed by substitutions who came in to replace the team’s starters, Locksley mentioned.
“When you’re playing a lot of these young guys and it’s their first time because we got our starters out of there early, we wanted to get some good work with the one offense and the one defense and then we started a lot of substitutions and you have to evaluate some of the newcomers and to me, that’s where, again, some of these just self-inflicted wounds showed up,” Locksley said.
Maryland finished with the sixth-most penalties in the Big Ten at the end of the 2020 season and committed 44 penalties in five games (8.8 per game).
Locksley believes his program is doing its best to limit those penalties, and only time will tell if the Terps can avoid the yellow flags against West Virginia in the season opener.