Maryland Preseason Football Camp Log: Day Eight
Aug. 12, 2008
COLLEGE PARK, Md. - With its offensive unit looking sluggish during practice Tuesday, the Maryland football team turned to fullback Cory Jackson to provide old-fashioned, hard-nosed football.
Following a fumbled snap in a latter stage of the evening session, offensive coordinator James Franklin huddled his players together, telling them, `We are down 14-0, how are we going to respond?' Jackson provided the answer.
The junior from Morgantown, W.Va., carried the bulk of the offensive load during a series of short-yardage drills at the end of practice. On consecutive plays he took handoffs and proceeded to first stiff-arm and then barrel over a pair of defensive backs, enabling the struggling unit to move the ball effectively in a red-zone drill.
Jackson's performance seemed to spark the offense, which rallied behind quarterbacks Chris Turner and Jordan Steffy during a goal-line scrimmage. After Jackson opened the scrimmage with a hard-fought touchdown run, Turner threw across his body to find wide receiver Torrey Smith in the back of the end zone. Not to be outdone, Steffy followed by completing a touchdown pass to wideout Ronnie Tyler as he was being converged on by pass rushers.
It was all in a day's work for a football team feeling the grind in the midst of the 20-day preseason camp. Ten of the 22 scheduled practices are now in the books.
"You go down in that locker room right now and there are not a lot of happy campers," head coach Ralph Friedgen said. "Sore this and sore that - that's two-a-days. It's something you have to fight through every year. We're right in the thick of it."
Prior to Jackson's perseverant running, the earlier portions of the practice belonged to the defense. Defensive lineman Mack Frost registered a sack, defensive back Jeff Allen snared an interception and Terrell Skinner provided a pair of big hits from the strong safety position.
"Last night and today I thought the defense was way ahead of the offense," Friedgen said. "The offense didn't look very good, didn't look very physical. We've got to get a lot better."
Had it not been for junior wideout Darrius Heyward-Bey and Smith, the defense's domination would have been magnified. Heyward-Bey wrestled the ball away from defensive back Kevin Barnes to convert a would-be interception into a pass completion.
Several minutes later, Smith, a redshirt freshman, appeared on the verge of being tackled behind the line of scrimmage on a reverse play before switching directions and streaking along the opposite sideline for positive yardage.
Friedgen took everything in from nearby, wearing a fishing-style hat as has been customary during preseason camp. The eighth-year coach continues to pay special attention to Turner, Steffy and fellow quarterback Josh Portis during his evaluation process.
"I'm really looking for the guy who's going to be the most consistent," Friedgen said. "They're all up-and-down. I think so far Jordan (Steffy) has been more consistent than the other two. The other two have had a bad day. Jordan hasn't had a bad day yet. I'm anxious to see how this plays out. To me, somebody needs to separate himself."
Friedgen is unlikely to name a starter for the season opener (Aug. 30 vs. Delaware) until at least after Saturday's scrimmage.
The Terps return to the practice field Wednesday morning for the first of two sessions.
Practice Tidbits: The Terps have been pretty fortunate on the injury front during the first week of camp, but Friedgen announced after practice that two players will miss the rest of the preseason. Junior Travis Ivey, who had been praised by Friedgen in recent days, broke a bone in his foot Monday during a non-contact drill and is expected to miss at least three weeks. Ivey was in the mix for time at one of the defensive tackle spots. The Terps also lost another defensive lineman when freshman Carl Russell suffered a knee injury, also in a non-contact drill. He's expected to miss three weeks. Redshirt freshman OL Tyler Bowen is expected to be out of action another six weeks with his foot injury. Bowen had surgery in the off-season and was not on the Terps' 105-man preseason roster. Friedgen will look to some talented youngsters on the defensive line including Dion Armstrong, A.J. Francis and Masengo Kabongo. Armstrong, a redshirt freshman, "has the physical tools," according to Friedgen, "to be a good football player." The head coach also singled out Francis, a true freshman who plays with good effort and leverage. "He's a load and tough to move," Friedgen said.
Terps in the Pros Update: Several Maryland football alumni had notable performances during the opening week of NFL preseason.