Friday, April 23, 2010
Robinson ready to lead Maryland offense
By Ted Miller
Being a leader is many things. It's difficult, for one. And necessary for a quarterback.
But it also can be amusing, at least that's what Jamarr Robinson has discovered as he's solidified his standing as Maryland's No. 1 quarterback this spring.
"I find myself yelling at people and then laughing at myself afterwards," said Robinson, who will lead the offense in Saturday's Red-White spring game at Capital One Field at Byrd Stadium.
Jamarr Robinson hopes to build on his experience from last season.
What's not funny is 2-10, at least if that's your record, as it was the Terrapins' in 2009. It was their worst finish in nine seasons under coach Ralph Friedgen and their worst year since 1997, when they went 2-9 under Ron Vanderlinden.
Of course, that '97 team got beat up just about every week, losing eight games by at least 11 points and two by more than 40 points. Last fall, Maryland found ways to lose. Seven losses came by 11 or fewer points and four by four points or fewer. The Terrapins were good enough to beat Clemson but bad enough to lose to Middle Tennessee at home.
While there were many culprits in 2009 -- youth and injuries are two -- the fundamental problem was a bad offense. And the predominant blame there falls on a line that gave up 36 sacks, which ranked 110th in the nation, and couldn't open holes for the running game, which ranked 105th.
Three starters are back from a unit that must improve -- and probably couldn't get much worse.
"I'm very encouraged by the progress of our offensive line, which was a concern going into spring practice," Friedgen said.
Therein lies reason for hope. If the line holds together, the offense could improve dramatically because there's plenty of skill surrounding Robinson.
There's Da'Rel Scott and Davin Meggett at running back -- "They're going to be a good one-two punch," Friedgen said. There's the return of nine of the top 10 receivers, topped by Torrey Smith, who ranked second in the ACC in receptions with 61 in 2009.
And there's Robinson, who saw significant action last fall, including starting two games when Chris Turner was hurt. He completed 54 percent of his passes for 459 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. He also rushed for 229 yards, 129 of which came against Virginia Tech.
Making his first college start against a rugged Hokies defense wasn't easy, but it should help Robinson in 2010. When he takes the field against Navy on Sept. 6, he won't be nearly as wide-eyed as a quarterback seeing his first playing time.
"It was critical for me going into this season we're about to go into," he said. "Those four games let me know what it's really like to play in a game. If I didn't have it, I'd still have those first-game starting jitters, like I had against Virginia Tech."
His athletic ability should make the offensive line's job easier, but Robinson doesn't want to just be a scrambler. His focus this spring was refining his understanding of the offense and his decision making.
"I have to know where my checkdowns are instead of taking a sack," he said.
Friedgen seemed mostly pleased with all three of his quarterbacks, including Danny O'Brien and C.J. Brown. But Robinson clearly asserted himself.
"Jamarr Robinson has had an excellent spring," Friedgen said. "He has matured. He is playing at a very high level. I've been very pleased with him. Right now, he is the starter."
Robinson said last year's team was young and lacked confidence. No surprise there. Finishing 2-10 will kill a team's confidence. Finishing 2-10 isn't much fun.
The expectation, Robinson said, is things will be a lot more amusing this fall.
"We're going to make a drastic change from what we were last year," he said. "We're a lot better. We're more together."