Maryland football's spring game was the first public showcase for Walt Bell's new, fast-paced offense, and Saturday's results were understandably extreme, for both better and worse. Of course, it's important to keep in mind the fact that what was on the field was far from a finished product.
Caleb Rowe and Levern Jacobs started things off with a 48-yard touchdown in the first quarter, and Ty Johnson broke away for a 64-yard TD run a couple drives later. Gage Shaffer hooked up with Jacobs to give the offense a 21-14 lead with a 51-yard score toward the end of the opening period. Jacobs had 5 catches for 112 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the game.
"This offense is built around big plays," rising senior quarterback Perry Hills said. "That's kind of what we go for."
Hills and Malcolm Culmer connected on a 40-yard score in an otherwise quiet second quarter, while Rowe and Jacquille Veii (who's back at Maryland after transferring to and from Towson) linked up for a 63-yarder in the third. All five of the Terps' scores were 40 yards or longer, and that isn't lost on the defense.
"You're always worried about the big plays," rising senior defensive end Roman Braglio said. "It's a mistake, and you've got to go in the film room and watch it and correct it."
But the defense won the scrimmage, which means some things went poorly for the offense. The five touchdowns were offset by 14 punts, two turnovers and a missed field goal. The Terps went three-and-out on seven different occasions, and took a grand total of zero snaps inside the red zone.
That's reminiscent of Maryland's 2015 offense, but again, the Terps are still making the transition to Bell's offense, which won't happen overnight. The new scheme is so drastically different from what they're accustomed to. Head coach DJ Durkin is actually impressed with the progress thus far in that front.
"We have a ways to go with completely understanding the tempo we want to play at and what we want to do, but we made great strides throughout the spring," Durkin said. "At times it looked good, it didn't look so good, but overall I'm proud of our guys."
If Maryland's offense is this inefficient five months from now, then we could be in for a long season. But that's a lot of time. This game was the culmination of a 14-practice spring season, and it'll be a long while before official football activity starts back up. Saturday was about getting on the field in front of the fans.
"Every guy that practiced with us this spring played in that game," Durkin said. "That's what it was about to me. We've asked a lot of our guys throughout this spring, we've really put it on them hard, and today was a day for them to come out and have fun. It wasn't about win or lose—that's why we did offense and defense. It was just go out there and play some ball."