Terps kick off spring football practice

Eager to show 'we're not a 2-10 team,' Terps boot aside painful memories of 2009 season and kick off spring practice

March 24, 2010|By Jeff Barker | jeff.barker@baltsun.com

COLLEGE PARK — - Maryland opened spring football practices Tuesday eager to erase the memory of a 2-10 season marred by inexperience, injuries and turnovers.

"I think our team is very excited to show we're not a 2-10 team," Terrapins coach Ralph Friedgen said before the first of 15 practices to be held over the next five weeks. "I really haven't had a season like that for a long time, to be honest with you."

The Terps return 12 starters (seven on offense, five on defense), including three at linebacker. Linebacker, wide receiver and running back appear to be the deepest positions.

The linebackers are led by Alex Wujciak, who was first-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference. Wujciak said Tuesday that he has benefited from a program in which players' percentage of body fat is tested. "I think they want us to be big, but faster," said Wujciak, who - like many Terps - has lost weight.

Wujciak said he has dropped 10 pounds and is down to about 246. Interviewed in the Gossett Football Team House, Wujciak winced when he recalled returning an interception 82 yards against Florida State last season before being caught and tackled at the 7. "That's one of the things that bothered me in the offseason," he said.

The linebacking group is solid enough that Friedgen said Drew Gloster is being switched to defensive end.

The offensive line will be a key. The line struggled last season after losing five of its top seven members to the NFL or other careers.

This year's line loses two starters - Bruce Campbell and Phil Costa. Paul Pinegar, a former walk-on who has played guard and tackle, is moving to center to replace Costa.

One lineman, Lamar Young, who will be a redshirt junior, is out this spring while recovering from shoulder surgery. Also out are defensive linemen Isaiah Ross (knee) and Carl Russell (shoulder).

Jamarr Robinson enters the season as the favorite to start at quarterback. Robinson, a redshirt sophomore last season, replaced injured senior Chris Turner, starting two games and playing in seven.

"You've got to say he's the starter," said offensive coordinator James Franklin. But Franklin said Robinson is not "entrenched," leaving room for competition from a handful of other quarterbacks in camp.

Friedgen said Robinson improved "each game" after subbing for Turner in a 38-31 loss at North Carolina State.

Said Robinson, who rushed for 229 yards and a 4.2 average: "Either the game slowed down or I got more comfortable."

Maryland fumbled 23 times last season, losing 14. Friedgen said curbing turnovers - and creating takeaways on defense - is being emphasized.

The Terps will practice three times a week until the annual Red-White game at Byrd Stadium on April 24.

Friedgen said his team, which lost its last seven games, needs to learn how to win. "When you're winning, you believe you're going to win," the coach said. "You don't hope you're going to win."

Maryland will open with Navy on Sept. 6 at M&T Bank Stadium.

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