COLLEGE PARK -- After losing its third quarterback since the beginning of training camp, Maryland enters Saturday's game against Boston College trying not to allow its season to be defined by injuries to prominent players.
Rather, the Terps (4-3, 2-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) hope the remaining five games will offer a lesson in perseverance as they try to complete a turnaround from last season's 2-10 disappointment.
But it won't be easy. The latest injury report included 28 players — more than a quarter of the team — and nine of them are certain not to play.
The three quarterbacks — C.J. Brown, Perry Hills and Devin Burns — top the list. Hills (torn anterior cruciate ligament) and Burns (Lisfranc injury in foot) were injured in last week's 20-18 loss to North Carolina State. Brown (torn ACL) was injured in the preseason.
Caleb Rowe, a true freshman who has played in one series, is the last quarterback standing. Coaches raved about his passing ability in the preseason but selected Hills over him because of Hills' leadership and ability to manage the offense.
Once the season began, Rowe often led the second-team offense in two-minute drills in practice against the first-team defense. On game days, he's usually been on the sideline wearing a headset.
"He's a student of the game," said Wade Cooper, Rowe's former coach at Blue Ridge High School in Greer, S.C. "He's spent a lot of time learning about coverages."
Rowe's backup is linebacker Shawn Petty, who ran a Navy-style option at Eleanor Roosevelt in Greenbelt but has been strictly a defensive player for the Terps.
"Somebody's just testing us, making us stronger, that's all," Maryland coach Randy Edsall said. "The thing that's really kind of crazy is that the [latest] injuries are all coming on offense."
Offensive lineman Bennett Fulper (foot), who had started the season's first six games, is among those who won't play Saturday. Neither will Marcus Leak, the team's second-leading receiver, who is out for the season with a broken toe.
The injuries mean the Terps will lean even more on a defense that ranks second in the conference in fewest yards allowed (288.4 per game) as they face a Boston College team (1-6, 0-4 ACC) that has lost five in a row.
The Terps have surrendered just 87.6 rushing yards per game — the only ACC school other than Florida State with an average under 100 yards.
Maryland also must hope its offense can sustain drives and hold on to the ball while Rowe becomes acclimated to the college game.
"The biggest thing we've got to do is keep [Rowe] loose — keep him loosey-goosey, because that's how he plays," Edsall said. "He's got the ability."
Maryland has lost a conference-high 12 fumbles and been intercepted seven times. Hills was injured chasing a Wolfpack defender after throwing a second-quarter interception last week.
After losing a trio of quarterbacks, at least the Terps are experienced at switching on the fly.
"When you get out there, there are little things — making calls is a little different," said backup center Evan Mulrooney, who started last weekend in place of Sal Conaboy. Conaboy (ankle) is listed as probable. "For the most part, it's just a quarterback and you just snap the ball to him."
Brown, a redshirt junior who was injured in a noncontact drill, has met with Petty to try to help him relearn the quarterback position. Brian McMahon (Atholton), a freshman tight end, has also been considered as an emergency quarterback.
"It never gets easy, I know that," Maryland offensive coordinator Mike Locksley said of dealing with the injuries. "We have to get the next guy ready — or next guys, depending on the situation. Our team has developed that personality."
Maryland (4-3, 2-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) at Boston College (1-6, 0-4 ACC)
Time: 1 p.m.
Site: Alumni Stadium, Chestnut Hill, Mass.
Radio: 105.7 FM, 980 AM
Series: Boston College leads 6-3
Last meeting: Boston College beat Maryland, 28-17, on Oct. 29, 2011, in College Park
Maryland offense vs. Boston College: Maryland, which needs two wins to become bowl-eligible, will start freshman Caleb Rowe at quarterback for the first time. Running back Wes Brown (shoulder) is listed as probable after rushing for a career-high 121 yards last week. Boston College has surrendered at least 34 points in each of its past four games — all losses. The Eagles rank last in the conference in total defense and scoring defense.
Maryland defense vs. Boston College offense: Maryland's defense is ranked 11th nationally in yards allowed per game and is led by defensive lineman Joe Vellano (7.7 tackles per game) and linebacker Demetrius Hartsfield (10.3 tackles per game). The Terps hope to get injured safety Matt Robinson (groin) back. He is listed as questionable. Boston College quarterback Chase Rettig is third in the conference in passing (292 yards per game). His leading receiver, Alex Amidon, tops the ACC with seven catches per game.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun