COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Maryland football coordinators Mike Locksley and Brian Stewart are looking forward to going against one another in Friday’s Red-White game after a productive spring season.
Locksley’s offense and Stewart’s defense will be on display as the culmination of spring workouts is put to the test at 7 p.m.
The coordinators are both in their second season with the Terps, and each has enjoyed the continuity of their systems.
“There’s definitely a natural ease in that the terminology, the plays, the techniques, we’re going through all of it,” said Locksley. “This is the third time it’s been installed for some of these guys — we put it in last spring, we did it again in the fall and now we’re doing it again in the spring. There’s definitely a familiarity with it.”
For the offense, the return of key players this season has been a huge sigh of relief. After a season of quarterback injuries,C.J. Brown received his sixth year of eligibility from the NCAA Tuesday, and although he won’t play Friday, he’s the expected starter going into the fall.
Wide receiver Stefon Diggs, who averaged 77.1 receiving yards per game last season, is expected to make a bigger contribution, and Deon Long and Nigel King are expected to join Diggs on the return team. Locksley also expects the tight ends to pick up their production after the quarterback inconsistency last season.
“Our most experienced position last year was tight end and with the quarterback situation, if anyone felt the brunt of it, it was the tight ends in terms of their production,” said Locksley.”
Although the defense will miss the production of a number of playmakers, including defensive linemen A.J. Francis and Joe Vellano, Stewart and the defensive coaches are excited to turn a new page moving forward.
“Everyone is increasing their confidence on defense,” said defensive line coach Greg Gattuso. “I used to ask a question and they’d pause long enough for Joe or A.J. to answer. I think they were overshadowed, and I think I’m seeing these guys blossom.”
Stewart is looking for more out of the defense this season, especially with the experience of the secondary.
“Last year they were in a learning process so we had to tone everything down and make sure they knew what to do,” said Stewart. “Now with it being the second year in the defense, now they’re playing fast and we’re trying to do what we’re supposed to do at a high level.”
The Red-White Spring game is scheduled for Friday at 7 p.m. Gates open at 6 p.m. and parking and admission are free of charge. Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic will air a one-hour show highlighted by extensive coverage of the spring game, including interviews and features. The show debuts Saturday, April 13, a 5 p.m., with encores Saturday at 10:30 p.m. and Sunday at 7 p.m.