April 22, 2008
College Park, MD (UWIRE) -- At the start of the spring football season, there were three players competing to be starting quarterback. But in the University of Maryland Terps' full four-quarter scrimmage Saturday, it appeared the field had been narrowed to two.
While junior Josh Portis, who was ineligible last season due to an academic honor code violation, had been expected to compete with returning starter Chris Turner and former starter Jordan Steffy, Portis threw just four passes. Turner, a junior, and senior Steffy have established themselves as the stars of the spring.
Turner won his position atop the depth chart after leading the Terps for the last eight games of the 2007 season. He replaced Jordan Steffy, who went out with a concussion in the game against Rutgers and started second on the depth chart.
But nothing was to be set in stone - coach Ralph Friedgen repeatedly declared an open competition for the position, a stance he maintains even as the spring season winds down.
"We're rotating both of them so they can both get a shot," Friedgen said. "We have to get better at the quarterback position."
Steffy is trying to remind the coaches why they chose him to be the starting quarterback over both Turner and Portis last spring.
His play this spring has been rewarded as he split time with Turner on the first-team offensive unit for the scrimmage. Steffy was unafraid to take risks on deep passes and threw 16 completions for 240 yards. He also threw the only touchdown of the day and had more success scrambling than Turner, though five sacks limited him to just -6 yards on the ground.
Meanwhile, Turner looked rattled. He completed 11 passes for 102 yards, averaging more than five yards less per pass than Steffy. He also had less success on the run, losing 41 yards and being sacked eight times. He threw the only interception of the game.
But Turner remains upbeat about his situation at quarterback.
"The interception was a miscommunication between myself and the tight end," Turner said. "But other than that, I felt I managed the offense well."
The third wheel, Portis, struggled to look either good or bad.
After sitting out the past two seasons - 2006 after transferring from Florida and 2007 as a result of the honor code violation - Portis completed 3-of-4 attempts for 25 yards. But it appears his progress has fallen short of his counterparts'.
"We have trouble getting the plays called with Josh," Friedgen said. "That's what he's got to work on."
Turner and Steffy, then, will look to separate themselves during this last week of practice and the Red-White Spring Game on Saturday. And even as they try to separate themselves, both know there is room for improvement.
"We've got to eliminate the little things," Turner said. "I want to get my timing down better and just go out and play."
(C) 2008 The Diamondback via UWIRE