On Saturday, Maryland football pitted starters against backups for its annual Spring Game. The ones, predictably, ran away with it, 31-3.
It was fans’ first live look at the offense under Matt Canada, and while it wasn’t enough to be definitive, there were were some tendencies that emerged. When Canada became the offensive coordinator, we knew that pre-snap motions would be a huge part of his offense. That was readily on display Saturday, with motions out the wazoo and a large number of jet sweeps to Jake Funk, Jeshaun Jones, MJ Jarrell and Anthony McFarland.
“Our room is really deep, obviously,” Funk said. “Being able to just rotate in fresh guys and having all of the running backs being able to play different positions that aren’t necessarily your ‘running back position’ really just helps our offense. We got our playmakers on the field and we just do what we do.”
There wasn’t too much to learn about the passing game, with Tyrrell Pigrome and Kasim Hill both inactive recovering from ACL injuries, and Taivon Jacobs not playing out of lack of necessity. According to head coach DJ Durkin, Pigrome and Hill are both ahead of schedule and on track to be 100 percent by the time summer practice rolls around. In their absence, Max Bortenschlager helmed the ones, early-enrollee Tyler DeSue manned the twos and Legend Brumbaugh mixed in, as they combined for just 27 pass plays and 11 receptions.
“I really love what we’re doing offensively,” Durkin said. “I think it’s going to give us an opportunity to be very successful.”
Much of that success was in the running game on Saturday, to the tune of 57 carries for 210 yards. While Lorenzo Harrison III was held out mostly because he didn’t need the snaps, Ty Johnson, McFarland, Funk and Javon Leake put on a show. Johnson reprised his role as lead back, with 10 carries for 50 yards, but it was the rest of the crop that impressed.
Funk looks like an early beneficiary of Canada’s system, with two scores on the day and too many jet sweeps to count. Maryland went undefeated last season when Funk scored, and it looks like Canada’s a fan of the rising junior. Funk was third on the Terps with seven carries for 27 yards and two touchdowns.
“What we do offensively really allows for a guy to create a role for himself in being multiple in our personnel and our formations and what we do,” Durkin said. “You have certain strengths, and those show and we can find a way to utilize you, and Jake obviously has a nose for the end zone.”
After redshirting last season while recovering from an injury suffered in high school, McFarland made his Terps debut on Saturday to the tune of 50 total yards—46 rushing and four receiving—on eight carries and two catches. He ran with both the ones and the twos, for the experience, and broke off this doozy of a run in the third.
That run set up a 37-yard Javon Leake score. After a freshman campaign with two scores and a couple breakaways, Leake had 47 yards and a touchdown on five carries for the day.
“[McFarland]’s got such big play capability,” Durkin said. “He’s finally healthy and in shape, and he is who we all know he is. ... Javon Leake, as well. [Leake]’s got big play capability. He assured that in spurts even in games as a freshman.”
While a running back rotation is unlikely to be set until near the first game, Durkin and Canada have one of the deepest crop of backs in the country to work with. With Canada’s system keeping them all in motion, opposing defenses should have a problem keeping the Terps’ run game in check.