QB Statham cleans up in UM's sloppy scrimmage

Sophomore is 11-for-19

penalties upset Friedgen

College Football

August 22, 2004|By Kevin Van Valkenburg | Kevin Van Valkenburg,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK - Maryland football coach Ralph Friedgen has said all preseason that he loves the enthusiasm of this year's team.

He is also quick to point out that, because his squad is so young, there are going to be times when the players are tired, sloppy and unfocused.

Yesterday seemed to be one of those days.

Maryland committed 16 penalties in its first preseason scrimmage, including 12 by the offense. The abundance of yellow flags put a damper on what was otherwise an impressive day for sophomore quarterback Joel Statham.

Statham, who still has a healthy lead in the race to win the Terps' starting job, was 11-for-19 for 145 yards, and looked confident and poised during the two-hour scrimmage. He may be one of the few people left who is not ready to say he'll be the starter for Maryland's Sept. 4 opener against Northern Illinois.

"I haven't heard anything from anyone yet," Statham said. "It still hasn't been finalized completely yet. I've gotten more confident as time's gone on, and the more I get to play, the more confidence they're going to have in me. [Not being named the starter] has kind of made me a better player. It's forced me to come out here and be sharper."

Said Friedgen: "I actually have seen [Statham] look better. But overall, he did OK. I was disappointed in the number of penalties. I think I got out of the scrimmage what I wanted to."

Friedgen was hoping yesterday would help him figure out who his backup quarterback will be, but he wasn't ready to make a decision.

Ryan Mitch and Jordan Steffy each threw for a touchdown, but both quarterbacks also made mistakes. Steffy, who was 4-for-5 for 41 yards, threw an interception and didn't hang in the pocket as much as Friedgen would have liked. Mitch, who was 2-for-4 for 31 yards, didn't pick up a blitz quickly enough and was sacked for a safety.

"Steffy made some mistakes today," Friedgen said. "He missed some things, which is understandable. But he also made a nice throw for the touchdown. I wasn't disappointed in him. I thought Ryan Mitch made a couple of plays at the end of the scrimmage."

"We're all in there competing for [No. 2]," Steffy said. "Coach said something about it earlier in the week. He said today was a big determining factor on the depth chart."

The No. 3 running back spot is up in the air as well, with Mario Merrills, Lance Ball and J.P. Humber competing. Humber scored two touchdowns and rushed for 94 yards on 16 carries - including a 44-yard run - but he also suffered a slight shoulder injury. Merrills scored three times and rushed for 79 yards, but he also lost a fumble after catching a screen pass.

"Those guys got more than enough reps today to try to show us something," Friedgen said. "I would have loved to have seen Keon [Lattimore] in this scrimmage because he was starting to make a move."

Lattimore dislocated his shoulder during Friday's evening practice and will be out at least a month. He might also need surgery, Friedgen said.

NOTES: Eric Lenz, a freshman linebacker, blocked a punt, made seven tackles and had a sack. ... Reuben Hagler injured his hamstring during the scrimmage. ... Today is Fan Appreciation Day at Byrd Stadium. Fans are invited to get player autographs from 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., and then stay to watch practice.

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