You have to have a long memory to recall that Maryland’s Ralph Friedgen knows how to coach a running quarterback. As the offensive coordinator at Georgia Tech in the late 1990s, Friedgen developed Joe Hamilton into the 1999 Heisman Trophy runner-up.
The Fridge’s quarterbacks in his nine seasons as head coach at his alma mater have been passers first, foremost and pretty much only. That became a problem last year with a young, beat-up offensive line that gave up 36 sacks. Senior quarterback Chris Turner became a target, especially because the running game (105.8 yards per game) didn’t produce enough to make the defenses respect it.
That’s going to change this season, beginning with spring practice. First of all, Friedgen said last week, all six quarterbacks are more “maneuverable” than Turner. He ran a 5.1 40-yard dash at the Terps’ recent pro day. The six 2010 QBs all run 4.8 or faster.
Second, and more importantly, is the way that junior Jamarr Robinson has shown his grasp of the offense in the Terps’ first three practices. Robinson, who started two games at the end of last season after an injury to Turner, finished third in rushing with 229 yards, even though he played in only seven games. At Florida State, his second career start, Robinson completed 20 of 27 passes for 214 yards, with a touchdown and no interceptions, in a 29-26 loss.
“He brings the ability to make plays with his feet,” head coach-in-waiting James Franklin said. “From here on out, that’s what all of our quarterbacks will be able to do. Our quarterbacks will always be a thrower first. [But] he has to have the ability to take a negative-yardage play and turn it into a positive.”
That sounds like a little thing. But when you finish 2-10 with four losses by four points or fewer, the little things mean a lot.