An eventful spring comes to a close Saturday for Maryland, which endured a midstream change at defensive coordinator on the heels of wholesale change this offseason in the coaching ranks.
Andy Buh is in, replacing former Syracuse coach Scott Shafer, who resigned April 1 for personal reasons. Buh came from Kentucky and has history with first-year Maryland coach DJ Durkin -- they coached together at Stanford from 2007 to 2009 -- easing the transition in College Park.
The Terrapins, attempting to rebound from a 3-9 season in which they lost eight straight before a win over Rutgers, saw coach Randy Edsall fired in October. So far, 2016 has been a time of healing, as Durkin, formerly the defensive coordinator at Michigan and Florida, reignites recruiting and tries to inject life into a slumbering offense with the hire of coordinator Walt Bell from Arkansas State.
The spring game Saturday will feature a basic format, with the offense pitted against the defense.
Where: Head out to Maryland Stadium. The weather will be pleasant. Admission and parking are free. The first 5,000 fans will receive a spring-game poster. What more do you want? After the scrimmage at 4 p.m., the Terps’ nationally-ranked men’s lacrosse team will host Rutgers. Fans who exit the stadium during the football scrimmage can receive a voucher for free admission to the lacrosse contest.
The spring game Saturday will feature a basic scrimmage. A scoring system, with points awarded for various positive plays, will pit the offense against the defense.
When to watch: Kickoff is set for 12:30 p.m. The scrimmage will be streamed on the Big Ten Network’s app. No TV coverage is scheduled.
Who to watch: Of course, the quarterbacks. Seniors Perry Hills and Caleb Rowe are competing for the second straight spring. This formula led to disastrous results last season as the pair split time in the fall. Hills started eight games, and Rowe started four. They combined to complete 48 percent of their throws with 14 touchdowns and 28 interceptions. No surprise, the Terps’ raw QBR ranked 120th nationally (of 128 teams) and last in the Big Ten.
This spring, Hills has taken charge of the QB race, receiving the bulk of work with the top offense. He appears a better fit for Bell’s offense, which utilizes the quarterback run game. And Hills has formed a nice chemistry with receivers D.J. Moore, brothers Levern and Taivon Jacobs and Malcolm Culmer. Redshirt freshman QB Gage Shaffer will also get time to make an impression.
What to watch: Keep an eye on the offensive line. Senior Michael Dunn at left tackle and sophomore Damian Prince on the right side have solidified spots this spring. It’s a good sign for Bell, the young coordinator, if they hold up well Saturday against a defensive line led by end Jesse Aniebonam and tackle David Shaw.
And how to replace Brad Craddock, the record-setting place-kicker who won the Groza Award in 2014? Maryland has likely found its man in homegrown Adam Greene, a junior who has impressed in spring practice. There are no bigger shoes to fill at Maryland.
Why to watch: It’s the last taste of Big Ten football you’ll get around the nation’s capital until the Howard Bison visit College Park on Sept. 3. And really, how pumped can you get for that? Seriously, Durkin and his experienced staff, featuring ex-Virginia coach Mike London and Pete Lembo, formerly of Ball State, have brought energy to Maryland by securing commitments for the 2017 recruiting class from Cam Spence, the nation’s No. 5-rated defensive tackle out of Florida’s IMG Academy, and heralded QB Kasim Hill from Washington, D.C. The honeymoon phase continues for Durkin, so Saturday should feature plenty of good vibes.