While rain drizzled throughout Saturday afternoon, the Maryland football team played its second red-white spring game under coach DJ Durkin at Maryland Stadium. The offense defeated the defense, 40-35, with quarterbacks Tyrell Pigrome and Max Bortenschlager sharing snaps, running back Lorenzo Harrison proving he hasn’t lost his explosiveness and reserves from last season expanding their roles.
Here are three takeaways from the scrimmage.
1. The running game continues to impress.
Maryland fans hadn’t seen Harrison since Nov. 5, when he had 58 yards in a blowout loss at Michigan. The team suspended him later that week for his alleged role in the campus BB gun incident. He was 57 yards from breaking the program’s freshman rushing record.
But Harrison showed Saturday he’s still one of the Terps’ most explosive backs. On his third carry, Harrison broke a 56-yard run for the game’s first touchdown.
“You saw [Harrison] do what he does,” Durkin said. “I don’t care who you are, he’s a tough guy to tackle. He made a bunch of guys miss and had some big plays for us.”
The Terps averaged the fourth-most rushing yards in the Big Ten last season, with running back Ty Johnson leading with 1,004 yards. Maryland’s backfield continued to build on the momentum as Harrison had 79 yards on five carries, while Johnson and Wilson combined for 113.
Incoming four-star Anthony McFarland should make the group even more dangerous.
“Having a good run game definitely helps the pass game, and having a good pass game helps the running game,” Bortenschlager said. “The running game looked awesome today.”
2. Maryland missed quarterback Caleb Henderson.
Pigrome earned the start while quarterback Caleb Henderson, a North Carolina transfer, sat with an injured ankle.
Pigrome’s first pass was incomplete. Then, defensive lineman Jessie Aniebonam intercepted his next try.
Last year’s starter, Perry Hills, graduated, and Henderson seems to be the frontrunner for the job. In Henderson’s absence, though, Pigrome struggled to settle in.
The sophomore started one game last season due to Hills’ injury, throwing two interceptions and one touchdown in a 21-point loss to Minnesota. He ended the first half Saturday with two picks and one score while going 4-for-10. Durkin lauded Pigrome’s ability to move past mistakes, and he finished 6-for-14 for 70 yards and two touchdowns.
“There are a couple of series I know Piggy would like to have back, but he had a couple of really nice ones down the field, too,” Durkin said. “That’s a great quality to have as a quarterback, and Piggy certainly has it, where he’s not going to let much affect him. He’s very confident.”
Bortenschlager, who also lost his lone start last season, also needed time to find a rhythm. The sophomore finished 7-for-16 for 152 yards and one touchdown.
Durkin believes the passing game is starting to keep pace with the running game. The quarterback battle, however, will only become more competitive when incoming four-star Kasim Hill arrives.
“Me, [Henderson] and Max, and the rest of the quarterbacks have just been going at it,” Pigrome said. “Kasim is coming in, so we’re all just going to be competing again.”
3. The defense forced a coveted two turnovers.
The Terps held the second-worst turnover margin in the Big Ten last season (minus-7), but Maryland forced two turnovers Saturday. Aniebonam’s interception was the first. Later, linebacker Antoine Brooks made a diving catch to pick Pigrome’s pass.
Durkin has emphasized causing turnovers in spring practices and said after the game he wants to see improved tackling. Nonetheless, the defense seemed to make progress.
“Doing your job doesn’t only include just running through the motions and doing what you’re told to do, but doing it with extreme effort,” Aniebonam said. “Once you do that, the turnovers will come. Coaches tell us that all the time, and it happened for us today, so we’re lucky for that.”