Terps looking for quarterback C.J. Brown to take next step as passer

At the end of each season, every player on Maryland's team is summoned to coach Randy Edsall's office individually to talk about the past year as well as what needs to be improved upon heading into the next season.

Much of what Edsall and quarterback C.J. Brown spoke about after last season was consistency.

The Terps enter their first year in the Big Ten with arguably the deepest and most talented group of wide receivers in the conference. But Brown, who is in his final year of eligibility, is responsible for getting them the ball, and both Edsall and Brown acknowledge that Brown has to be better than he was at times last year.

Brown started off well, throwing for seven touchdowns with just one interception in Maryland's first four games. But he threw for just one touchdown and five interceptions in his next four games before rebounding late in the season.

"The biggest thing for him is to be more consistent in everything he does — his accuracy, his decision making and understanding when to pull it down and when to throw it and doing those different things," Edsall said.

Brown has always had the ability to hurt defenses as a runner. He ran for 110 or more yards three times as a sophomore in 2011 and ran for 772 yards and 12 touchdowns last year after missing 2012 because of a knee injury.

The next step is being able to consistently hurt defenses with his arm.

It did not help being without his top receivers — Stefon Diggs and Deon Long — for the final six games of last season, but Brown finished with 13 touchdown passes seven interceptions and a completion percentage of .589.

He completed just 49 percent of his passes in 2011.

"With these weapons we have on the outside, we've just got to be able to take advantage of it. Get them the ball and let them work in space, take a little bit more off my plate and put it on theirs because I've just got to get them the ball, whereas in the past it felt like I had to do a lot individually," Brown said. "So I think as a sixth-year guy, I realize that — be smart, take care of the football, manage the offense and just make plays when they're there."

Edsall said he has seen Brown grow in those areas.

"He's got a lot more confidence going into this year than he did at this time last year," Edsall said.

Teammates agree.

"Huge [growth]," senior center Sal Conaboy said. "He's really worked on that a lot. He got some criticism coming out of that [2011] season, people telling him he isn't as accurate as he should be, and he took that to heart and worked on it and definitely improved … and he's still working at it. He's still trying to get better. He's always working."

Brown has good and bad moments through the first two days of preseason practice.

"We all have some cobwebs to shake off," Conaboy said.

The bigger test for Brown will be once the pads come on Friday. The running ability is still there, as he showed while scrambling for a big gain during team drills Tuesday.

Brown also threw touchdown passes to tight end Andrew Isaacs and wide receiver Marcus Leak during the team portion of practice. But there were interceptions and incompletions as well.

Brown hopes to be more efficient throwing down the field than he has in the past. He has not taken many shots downfield during the early part of preseason practice, but one of Brown's primary goals during the summer was improving on his deep passing game.

"The biggest thing I took away from the spring going into the summer workouts was just emphasizing the deep ball, trying to work on that, especially with all the depth and playmakers that we have outside," Brown said. "I think it's going to be huge for us, especially with the coverages we're about to see.

"We've got to take advantage of that, take a little bit off my plate in terms of running and things like that and get it to the playmakers outside, to be able to throw the deep post, throw the [fly route] outside and get those special [guys] outside the ball."



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