Terps expose spring issues

Hollenbach throws 3 interceptions, receivers struggle in Red-White game

College football

April 30, 2006|By HEATHER A. DINICH | HEATHER A. DINICH,SUN REPORTER

COLLEGE PARK -- After yesterday's rather lackluster Red-White scrimmage in which Maryland's struggling passing game was exposed, receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey was one of the few players able to put a quantitative number on how far away the Terps are from turning around back-to-back 5-6 seasons.

"Come fall," he said, "we should be 20 times better than we were today."

The first offensive touchdown didn't come until 10:31 left in the game, the first-team offense accrued only 67 total yards in the first half and threw four interceptions. In the second half, starting quarterback Sam Hollenbach was 0-for-4 with two of those interceptions.

Young receivers dropped passes that hit them in the numbers, and inexperienced quarterbacks ran all over the field. Two hours later, the White team - filled with the Terps' second-string offense - beat the Red team and Maryland's top two quarterbacks, 16-12, before an announced crowd of 9,327.

"Overall, we've got a lot of work to do before we are the team we want to be," said Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen, who called the offensive plays yesterday. "I still think we can be that. This summer is going to be critical for our wide receivers and quarterbacks."

As expected, Lance Ball led the Terps' running game with 58 yards on 11 carries. It was difficult to evaluate Maryland's defense - which held the Red team to 208 total yards - because of the numerous mistakes on offense. Old Mill graduate Kevin Barnes, who had an impressive spring, returned an interception he snagged from Hollenbach 28 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter.

Hollenbach maintained his starting position, although backup quarterback Jordan Steffy threw the only touchdown pass of the game - a 6-yard toss to Terrell Skinner. Both teams failed on their two-point conversion attempts.

Hollenbach completed seven of 18 passes for 50 yards and three interceptions. Steffy, who split time with the white team, completed seven of 16 passes for 54 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

Last season, Hollenbach threw 13 touchdown passes and 15 interceptions. Friedgen said he is frustrated but isn't ready to make a change.

"I'm getting tired of it, to be honest with you," Friedgen said. "They have to stop or I'm going to make a change, I'm just going to tell you that. Right now, I don't think that's merited. When that time comes, I'll tell him first. Right now, he's still ahead."

Friedgen pointed out that Hollenbach made better decisions than Steffy, and receivers dropped passes when they were open. Asked about Hollenbach's decision-making, Freidgen seemed irritated.

"Let me coach him, all right?" Freidgen said. "Let me make those decisions."

Of Hollenbach's three interceptions, both he and Friedgen agreed he had "one bad read."

"The first interception was all me," Hollenbach said. "Besides that, we gotta be able to make the plays in the receiving game. I'm going to throw those balls each time. That's how it is.

"I feel confident about my own ability to get the job done," he said. "Whether coach thinks that or not, it's a different story, but I feel like I've made some improvement in the areas I need to get better."

Maryland's receivers said they are aware that they need to improve.

"We got a long way to go, to be honest with you, but this summer we're going to work hard," Skinner said. "As long as we can improve every time we practice and never lose a day, I think we'll be OK for the season."

Heyward-Bey led the White team with 49 yards on two catches, including a 44-yard pass from Josh Portis, a transfer from Florida who is probably the team's top quarterback but has to sit out this season.

Portis and Chris Turner were the only two of the Terps' five quarterbacks who didn't throw an interception yesterday.

"That's the reason the white team beat the red team," Friedgen said. "If that persists, we're still going to have trouble winning football games. We have to get that stopped eventually or find somebody who won't throw interceptions."

Note -- Defensive tackle Robert Armstrong was suspended for yesterday's game for "conduct detrimental to the team," Friedgen said. He declined to say when Armstrong would return.heather.dinich@baltsun.com

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