Three things to watch for in Maryland's spring game
When: Saturday, 12:30 p.m. ET
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
-Somebody to look like a starting quarterback
Last year was rough at the quarterback position for Maryland. Watching the Terps make history with their interception-fest was frustrating on all counts. But with a new coaching staff, that’s in the past.
Both Perry Hills and Caleb Rowe should be thankful that the slate is clean for them. Saturday will be an opportunity for both of them to show that they made strides with their decision-making since the end of the 2015 season. Hills might be the favorite to win the job because of what he can do with his legs. New offensive coordinator Walt Bell ran the spread at Arkansas State, but he isn’t necessarily committed to a specific scheme yet. That’s good news for Rowe, who showed flashes of potential with his arm.
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Redshirt freshman Greg Shaffer will also get plenty of snaps on Saturday. Given the lack of stability at the position, it isn’t crazy to think that he can also move his way up the depth chart with a solid showing.
-Will Likely’s role
Usually a 5-7, 175-pound guy can’t find his way on to the football field. By the end of 2015, Likely couldn’t find his way off of it. It remains to be seen how the new coaching staff will use the punt returner/kick returner/cornerback/receiver.
In a spring game, special teams are often non-existent. There’s a chance Likely won’t get to shine where he usually shines brightest. The nation’s top punt returner might not get looks on offense like he did last year, but he’s certainly capable of stretching the field on a drag or jet sweep.
In all likelihood — sorry — we’ll see Likely lined up at cornerback and not much else. That doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll be a one-trick pony come September, but it might not make much sense for Maryland to play its best player on three sides of the ball in a spring game.
-How far along Maryland’s defense is
When you hire a defensive mind like D.J. Durkin, you should expect to see some significant defensive improvements. After all, Durkin led a top-five defense at Michigan. Maryland’s 90th-ranked unit, which lost three of its best players to the draft, needs an immediate boost.
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Unfortunately for the Terps, Scott Shafer’s sudden departure meant that new defensive coordinator Andy Buh only got a late start. That’s not ideal for an inexperienced front seven. Luckily, veterans Jermaine Carter, Jr. and Roman Braglio should provide some stability with all the moving parts. Scheme-wise, he hasn’t implemented much change and he might not. Maryland will run a 3-4 that can transition into a 3-4 look.
Still, Buh is the Terps’ fourth DC in the last 14 months. The communication might not be there yet, which means there could be some obvious breakdowns on Saturday. However the defense performs, Buh can take solace knowing that he’ll still have five months to get his unit at the level he’d like it to be at.