I just read Eric Pisbell’s column on Maryland’s deep receiving corps and I’ve been sifting through the preseason football camp logs on the umterps.com site. They are excellent reading if you want to get yourself psyched up about the team. The recurring theme in these reports is that the offensive focus in the preseason has been on the passing game. One could argue that the passing game is in focus because that is where the Terps need the most work. I see signs that there is something different going on this year.
Coach Ralph Friedgen seems to finally trust QB Chris Turner. When asked which players have stood out in the preseason, Friedgen responded, “Chris Turner – he’s really doing a great job of seeing things, setting the defense, using his cadence, making decisions. I’m very pleased with how he’s playing.” This is the first year in as long as I can remember that there is a clear cut #1 starter at the QB position. Consistency has been the knock on Turner in the past, but he’s going to benefit from having all the first team snaps he needs before the beginning of this season. Backup QB Jamaar Robinson has progressed. Should Turner suffer an injury, the reports out of camp indicate that Robinson is a capable backup. Robinson also gives the team a QB that can get out of the pocket and make plays on the ground.
When Friedgen took the team over in November 2000, he was touted as an offensive coach that knew how to balance the run with the pass. The team’s success during his tenure has been mostly due to stout defense and punishing running backs. While Maryland has a very capable set of backs in Da’Rel Scott and Davin Meggett, they have three standout receivers that have emerged from a field of ten. Torrey Smith, Adrian Cannon, and Ronnie Tyler have all benefited from preseason competition for roster spots. According to Prisbell’s article, the focus of the competition has been on limiting drops. If the receiving corps can succeed in achieving their goal of limiting drops to 3% of passes, 2009 will be Maryland’s Year of the Forward Pass.