Terps practicing without ball to prepare for Navy

Notebook

Maryland's scout team tries to duplicate speed of Navy's Dobbs

August 26, 2010|By Jeff Barker, The Baltimore Sun

COLLEGE PARK — Maryland has adopted an unusual method of preparing for Navy's triple-option offense: The Terps are practicing without a ball.

The Midshipmen, who play Maryland in the season opener on Sept. 6 at M&T Bank Stadium, are difficult to mimic. It's hard for opposing scout teams to duplicate the speed and multiple fakes of Ricky Dobbs, Navy's senior quarterback and captain.

So Maryland coaches have made it easier this week by asking the scout team offense to play without the ball. That way, scout quarterback Devin Burns can provide his best -- and speediest -- impersonation of Dobbs without having to worry about fumbling.

"Most of the option stuff we do without a ball," Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen said. "It allows those kids to run faster. Some teams preparing for the option have done that before. We want to make sure we take care of him," meaning Dobbs.

Burns, a freshman from Columbus, Ga., is the fourth-team quarterback. He said he has seen the Navy quarterback play on television and hopes he is providing Maryland's defense with a realistic dose of Dobbs.

"It's a different kind of feeling running without a ball," Burns said after the Terps ran a mock scrimmage Thursday that included some plays without a football. "They [the defense] wouldn't know who has the ball so they have to make sure they wrap up -- the fullback and the quarterback, mainly."

Burns said the defense has been getting better at bringing him down.

"We're supposed to keep running until they wrap you up. Today we had a few big plays. But we've given them [the defense] a good look, so that's going to help them."

Williams moves up

Slot receiver LaQuan Williams (Poly) has moved to the top of the depth chart opposite Torrey Smith and Adrian Cannon.

Friedgen downplayed the significance of Williams' elevation -- the senior had previously been behind Ronnie Tyler at one of the three receiver spots.

"We could start any one of those three kids," Williams, Tyler or Kerry Boykins, Friedgen said. "Maybe it's because he's a senior, I don't know. Those kids are interchangeable. We will play two-deep at wide receiver."

Which freshmen will step up?

Last season, Maryland -- owing largely to injury -- played an unusually high number of freshmen. Twenty-four participated -- 10 true freshmen and 14 redshirts.

So which freshmen might contribute this season?

"I think [defensive back] Matt Robinson [Atholton] has a chance," Friedgen said. Defensive back "Titus Till, [defensive lineman] Ian Evans and [offensive lineman] Max Garcia."

Coaches have also been impressed with linebacker David Mackall (Edmondson).

Maryland coaches say offensive linemen generally take a year or longer to develop. Garcia appears to be ahead of the curve.

"He is fundamentally very sound and he's got decent strength," Friedgen said. "I think before the end of the season if someone gets nicked up, he's going to be forced to play."

jeff.barker@baltsun.com

twitter.com/sunjeffbarker

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