Maryland's backup QB plan is lagging

Trying to learn offense, Hollenbach, Statham playing spring catch-up

College Football

April 22, 2003|By Christian Ewell | Christian Ewell,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK - For his first two years as Maryland football offensive coordinator, Charlie Taaffe spent his springs finding and preparing a new starting quarterback.

With Scott McBrien returning for his senior year after developing into one of the best passers in the Atlantic Coast Conference last season, that task is not necessary this spring. But worries never abate when it comes to finding quarterbacks.

"I don't know about second-team quarterback. They're all just floundering. I wish someone would step up to the occasion, but I don't see it happening," Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen said after Saturday's scrimmage.

Yesterday, Friedgen acknowledged that defensive coordinator Gary Blackney's schemes are fairly confusing and have skewed any evaluation of the No. 2 candidates - Orlando Evans, Sam Hollenbach and Joel Statham - entering Saturday's Red-White game.

"I think I'm going to answer that question after Saturday," Friedgen said. "I should have told Gary to hold back. [The quarterbacks] are seeing so much stuff right now that it's really not fair to them."

Hollenbach and Statham, both freshmen who sat out as redshirts last season, are the probable co-favorites for the second-string spot and have spent this spring playing catch-up in the Terps' offense.

Rather than ease each player into learning the offense, Taaffe has put them on a fast track.

"The young guys have to be in a catch-up mode, rather than catering to the freshmen and slowing everyone else up," he said.

Hollenbach practiced as a scout team member for much of 2002 - redshirt players can practice but not play in games - getting crash courses about offenses ranging from Wofford's option-only attack to Virginia's pro-influenced scheme, but he had little opportunity to absorb the Maryland offense.

Coaches promoted Statham from scout team to third string early last season, but he never played in a game and kept his redshirt status. With light repetitions, however, he came into this spring with about as much seasoning as Hollenbach.

"We're getting a lot thrown at us and we have to learn how to put it together on the field," Statham said.

Taaffe said he hopes the growing pains are temporary.

"It's not always pretty with those guys right now, but in the long run, we'll be better for it," he said. "They're going to have good periods and bad ones, but both are working hard and have ability from what I've seen."

NOTE: The Terps lost one of their fullback candidates last week when Jason Crawford was suspended indefinitely for academic reasons. Crawford started Maryland's 2002 opener at tailback against Notre Dame and fell to No. 4 on the depth chart before moving to fullback.

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