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5 takeaways from Maryland football’s spring game

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What stood out from the Red-White Game at Maryland Stadium.

Maryland football Tyler DeSue spring game Lila Bromberg / Testudo Times

Maryland football closed its spring season with Saturday afternoon’s Red-White game at Maryland Stadium. The Red Team, which included most of the first-team offense, took down the White Team, led by the Terps’ top defenders, in a back-and-forth 28-17 game.

Red scored on its first drive and held an early 14-0 lead, which White trimmed to 14-7 at halftime and 14-10 early in the third quarter. The sides traded touchdowns in the third, and Red went up two scores again in the fourth. White couldn’t cut into the deficit, and that score held at the final whistle.

There’s only so much to take away from a spring game, but here’s what stood out.

With Tyrrell Pigrome out, the other quarterbacks filled in well.

The Terps have been thin at quarterback all spring. Transfer Josh Jackson and incoming freshman Lance LeGendre aren’t on campus yet, and Kasim Hill has been away from the team as he rehabs his second torn ACL (he’s also in the transfer portal). Pigrome, who started the final two games last season, tweaked his knee in a scrimmage last week and was held out throughout the week as a precautionary measure.

In his place, redshirt freshman Tyler DeSue impressed for the Red Team, completing 23 of 35 passes for 218 yards and two scores. For the second straight spring game, DeSue and Max Bortenschlager were Maryland’s top available signal callers. Bortenschlager went 29-of-47 for 352 yards with two touchdowns and an interception at the end of the first half.

Both Bortenschlager and DeSue will face an uphill battle in the fall, but both held their own Saturday. If nothing else, it’s encouraging that the offense allowed them to throw a lot without requiring them to do too much.

Tight ends made their mark in the passing game.

There were three touchdown passes on Saturday, and all of them were caught by tight ends. Chigoziem Okonkwo, a first-team tight end who ended up on the White Team with second-stringers, led the way with six catches, 42 yards and two scores. Walk-on Robert Schwob pulled in a 23-yarder from DeSue in the third quarter, and Michael Cornwell recorded a score of his own in the fourth. Cornwell and Noah Barnes combined for nine receptions and 39 yards.

At receiver, Brian Cobbs tallied 102 yards on five catches for White, while Jeshaun Jones had four receptions for 38 yards on Red. But more noteworthy than any of this is the pass thrown to a lineman. Early in the second quarter, the Red Team lined left tackle Jaelyn Duncan up as an eligible receiver, and DeSue found him on a screen pass. Duncan made the catch and picked up seven yards. This catch alone probably didn’t seal his Most Valuable Lineman honor, but it certainly helped.

Anthony McFarland is still good.

The headliner of Maryland’s running back group wasted no time making first-team defenders look silly. After DeSue completed four passes on the Red Team’s first drive, McFarland took his first carry 34 yards to the house. His squad never relinquished that early lead.

McFarland finished the afternoon with nine carries for 57 yards, while Tayon Fleet-Davis led the White Team with 42 yards on nine attempts. Javon Leake wore a black jersey and switched teams at halftime, then again in the fourth quarter. He totaled 61 yards on 10 carries. With Lorenzo Harrison III and Jake Funk still rehabbing injuries, this trio impressed all afternoon.

The defenses got balanced contributions.

Linebacker Ayinde Eley and safety Deon Jones led the stat sheet for the White Team, recording eight and seven tackles, respectively. Safeties Fofie Bazzie and Raymond Boone and linebacker Fa’Najae Gotay each had six tackles for Red, while linebacker Wyatt Cook picked off Bortenschlager in the second quarter.

The teams combined for just one sack, a surprisingly low number given that whistles will blow as soon as a pass rusher reached the quarterback. It’s unclear whether that reflects more on the offensive or defensive line, although pass rush is a serious question mark this offseason.

The kicking game was an adventure.

With three-year starter Wade Lees gone, Maryland had one (1) punter in spring camp. Bentley Faulkner, listed as a hybrid kicker/punter, was on the White Team, which left the Red Team without a real punter. Mike Shinsky, the second-string kicker, confused no one, sending four punts a total of 99 yards.

On the flip side, Shinsky and Joseph Petrino were on the same team, so White’s placekicker was Paul Inzerillo, who has zero career attempts to his name. His first field-goal attempt, a 44-yarder in the first quarter, was shanked low and left. Inzerillo bounced back in the third, knocking home a 24-yarder.

The Terps will add freshman punter Anthony Pecorella in the summer, and Petrino was steady as a rookie kicker last season. So this isn’t an area to be too worried, but the depth is certainly a question mark.