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Wide receivers have done Maryland quarterbacks no favors

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Maryland quarterback C.J. Brown was on his back on the Byrd Stadium grass and never saw the end of the play.

It's just as well he missed it. His perfectly arcing, deep spiral was dropped by a wide-open Ronnie Tyler with Maryland trying to extend an 11-point lead against Clemson on Oct. 15 — a game the Terps lost.

Many of the media stories about Maryland's disappointing 2011 season have focused on the quarterbacks. That position always seems to command the most attention.

But there is another part of the equation that helps explain Maryland's mysteriously disappearing passing game — the receivers. Often, they haven't managed to hang onto the ball.

It's been a nagging problem all year, and it seemed more pronounced in Saturday's 28-17 loss to Boston College — Maryland's fourth defeat in a row.

"We had eight drops in the game. That doesn't help with the consistency we're looking for," coach Randy Edsall said Sunday.

Among the culprits: freshman wide receiver Marcus Leak and running backs Justus Pickett and Davin Meggett.

It didn't help that the field and the ball got slick in the snow and rain. "When that ball got muddy and sandy, it was really hard to both throw and catch," said Danny O'Brien, who split time with Brown at quarterback. "At the same time, they were playing in same elements that we were."

Tyler was demoted after the Clemson game and was not on the latest two-deep depth chart. He had one catch for nine yards against Boston College. Also off the depth chart is leading receiver Kevin Dorsey, who left the Clemson game with an apparent injury. The top two receivers on the most recent chart were senior Quintin McCree and Leak.

Maryland (2-6, 1-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) lost a pair of starting receivers from last season — Torrey Smith (Ravens) and Adrian Cannon. Edsall said during August training camp that people might be "pleasantly surprised" at the performance of the remaining pass-catchers.

Edsall expressed disappointment that freshman receiver Nigel King, who graduated high school early and enrolled at Maryland in January, was ruled ineligible for this season by an NCAA clearinghouse that studied his academic record.

Maryland receivers began the season with a flourish. Dorsey (eight receptions) and McCree (seven) set career highs for catches as the Terps used their short passing game effectively in a 32-24 victory over Miami. O'Brien finished with 348 passing yards.

But Maryland's passing yardage declined in each of the next four games. The Terps are now averaging 210.5 passing yards, 10th in the ACC. Maryland receivers have sometimes seemed out of sync with the quarterbacks in their routes.

On Saturday, O'Brien and Brown combined to complete 16 of 41 passes for 179 yards with two interceptions and one touchdown. Edsall would not say Sunday who will start Saturday against Virginia.

A bright spot was the performance of wide receiver Adrian Coxson (City), who had three catches for 78 yards, including a 55-yard touchdown from O'Brien.

O'Brien said quarterbacks need to have short memories when receivers drop balls. He is not prone to criticizing his receivers after muffs.

"They feel bad enough," the quarterback said. "I just tell them, 'I'll come back to you with the same read. Keep your confidence.'"

jeff.barker@baltsun.com

twitter.com/sunjeffbarker

THE GOOD

Senior running back Davin Meggett rushed for 99 yards and is now tied for 10th on Maryland's career list. Senior cornerback Cameron Chism got his seventh career interception, tying him with Kenny Tate on the team.

THE BAD

Boston College rushed for 372 yards, a high for a Maryland opponent this season.

NEXT UP

The Terps host Virginia (5-3, 2-2) at 12:30 on Saturday at Byrd Stadium.

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