College Sports

What to watch for at Maryland's open scrimmage

On Saturday afternoon in College Park, fans will get their first look at Maryland as part of the team's open scrimmage at Fan Appreciation Day. The main question looming in fall camp has been who will seize the starting job and be under center when the Terps square off with Richmond on Sept. 5 in the season opener. But there's much more to wonder about while watching at Byrd Stadium.

Here are a few more things to look for during the scrimmage.


How do the offensive and defensive lines look?

After Maryland's first season in the Big Ten Conference, both lines bulked up significantly during the offseason. The average weight of the six offensive linemen vying for starting jobs went up more than 12 pounds, and Edsall said defensive linemen, such as Jesse Aniebonam, have changed their bodies in the switch from the 3-4 to the 4-3 defense. So far in camp, neither side has dominated, but both have occasionally held the upper hand.


Edsall has called the Big Ten a "linemen league" before this summer, and one of the main goals for Maryland this season is to control the line of scrimmage better. In practice, both sides have been uneven, with holes being opened for a long run on one play followed by an unobstructed path for a quarterback sack the next. The biggest thing Edsall will be looking for Saturday will be the consistency of both units — can they hold their own?

A relatively inexperienced group of linebackers coming together.

Maryland's group of linebackers took a significant hit when projected starter Abner Logan suffered a season-ending knee injury early in camp. Logan was one of three linebackers on the depth chart — out of 12 total — to have started a game in college. Jalen Brooks started four games last year and Connecticut transfer Jefferson Ashiru started eight, but the rest of the unit is largely untested.

Much is expected out of redshirt sophomore Jermaine Carter in the middle of the defense. Coaches have praised Carter's development after he appeared in every game last season, mostly on special teams. He'll be in the middle of a new scheme and be expected to lead with six freshmen on the depth chart.

Where do the big plays come from?

The Terps appear to enter camp with a void of playmakers after the departures of Stefon Diggs, Deon Long and C.J. Brown. It's hard to replace an electric talent like Diggs, but Maryland is in much better shape than it appears.

Levern and Taivon Jacobs return from suspension and injury, respectively, which should immediately help soften some of the blow. Levern Jacobs had catches of 48, 56 and 71 yards in 2013, and was a big-play threat after Diggs and Long were lost for the season. Coaches and teammates said that Taivon Jacobs is one of the fastest players on the team. Running back Brandon Ross and wide receiver Amba Etta-Tawo also had long touchdown plays last season. So Saturday, watch out for one of them to break a play for a big gain.

Plus, Maryland has defensive standout Will Likely (four touchdowns last season) returning kicks.


Who has a leg up in the punting competition?

It might not be the most thrilling thing to watch, but it's still important. Maryland has three freshmen vying for the job after Nate Renfro transferred to Tennessee this offseason, and so far, Edsall has praised Nicolas Pritchard for his performance in camp. It might be more entertaining to watch speedsters Likely, Taivon Jacobs, and Ty Johnson return punts, but there are serious implications for the Terps.

Renfro punted all three years he was in College Park, but he struggled with his consistency at times. With a defense featuring many new young faces, it'll be vital to give every advantage to the unit. The easy way to do that is to give the opponent a long field. While Edsall said Pritchard gives the Terps that right now, Nicholas Rubinowicz, an all-state selection in Florida last fall, has a big leg, and Lee Shrader is also in the mix.

Fan Appreciation Day details

Saturday's scrimmage will run from 1-3 p.m. Players will be available for autographs on the field following the game, and other giveaways will happen during the scrimmage. Attendees are advised to park in Lot 1 at Maryland.