Carroll County Times
Carroll County

Maryland quarterback situation murky once again

COLLEGE PARK - A week after Maryland regained some clarity about its starting quarterback, the situation is muddled once again.
As the Terrapins (5-2, 1-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) prepare to face ninth-ranked Clemson (6-1, 4-1) at Byrd Stadium Saturday, they're not sure who will play quarterback.
On Tuesday - for the first time since Saturday's 34-10 loss at Wake Forest - Maryland football coach Randy Edsall revealed that starting quarterback C.J. Brown was pulled from that game because of health concerns, rather than ineffectiveness.
"It wasn't performance-related," Edsall said. "It was health-related."
Brown suffered a concussion in the Terrapins' Oct. 5 blowout loss at No. 8 Florida State and missed the following week's game. With Brown sidelined, backup Caleb Rowe led Maryland to a 27-26 victory over Virginia.
Brown was medically cleared to play against Wake Forest and started the game. He absorbed several hard hits, at least one of which did some physical damage. He was sacked three times and intercepted twice before Edsall pulled him from the game and brought in Rowe.
Neither Edsall nor Brown would divulge the nature of the injury - only that it was unrelated to the earlier concussion.
The coach said he would evaluate Brown's performance at practice and decide on a starter later in the week - perhaps as late as Saturday,
"Going into the [Wake Forest] game, I felt really good," Brown said. "Obviously, I took some hits in the game early and Coach made his decision. We'll go out this week [and prepare] like any other week. I'm still getting treatment on a lot of things, just trying to take care of my body - that's the biggest thing.
"At the beginning of the game, I felt 100 percent. I felt really good. I wouldn't put the team in jeopardy if I wasn't capable of going out there and helping the team. I wouldn't be out there."
Somewhere along the way, Edsall saw something in Brown's performance (15 for 24 for 137 yards and two interceptions) that raised concerns about the quarterback's health.
"It's my duty and it's my obligation to watch all of our players perform in practice, perform in games using my eyesight to see how they're performing," Edsall said. "If they're not performing up to the standards due to health-related issues, I think I owe it to those young man to say, 'I'm not sure you can end up doing the things you're capable of doing on the field.' What I have to do is put someone else in there so as not to further risk a young man to injury - even though he's cleared - knowing what that young man can do, and what I see him doing on the field."
Even though the quarterback position is the most prominent on the team, it should be far down Edsall's list of worries this week. Even if Brown can't play, Rowe has proven himself as a more than capable substitute. In his start against Virginia, he completed 18 of 34 passes for 332 yards and the game-winning touchdowns.
Maryland has no such safety net at the wide receiver position, where playmakers Stefon Diggs and Deon Long are finished for the season. Both suffered broken legs in the Wake Forest game, leaving Maryland without much experience on the flank. Diggs and Long had combined for 64 catches for 1,076 yards and four touchdowns through seven games. Maryland's most productive healthy receiver at this point is running back Brandon Ross, who has just 14 catches. Ross also got banged up against Wake Forest.
On this week's depth chart, Levern Jacobs (13 catches), Amba Etta-Tawo (eight catches) and Malcolm Culmer (three catches) are listed as the starting wide receivers.
"We all understand as football players that injuries are part of this game," said Jacobs, who had a touchdown catch and a fumble against Wake Forest. "Things are going to happen during the course of the season ... As a group, we are going to have to step up."
The health of Maryland's defense is just as problematic. At this point, two starting cornerbacks (Jeremiah Johnson and Dexter McDougle) are out, along with starting linebackers Matt Robinson (shoulder) and L.A. Goree. Goree was expected to play against Wake Forest, but was held out of the game because of back spasms.