COLLEGE PARK — Maryland's 45-6 loss to West Virginia was still fresh in Caleb Rowe's mind as he boarded the team bus for the ride back home from Morgantown, along the dark and windy roads of Western Maryland.
It was a performance to forget featuring four interceptions and plenty of poor decisions for the redshirt junior, but he relived it right away.
Offensive coordinator Mike Locksley pulled Rowe aside, and the pair re-watched the game together on an iPad as the bus made its way back to College Park. Rowe said he watched it about five times before the team started meetings this week, and once again, the theme from Rowe and Locksley is the same: If Maryland wants to compete against No. 22 Michigan in this week's Big Ten Conference opener, the Terps will need Rowe to make smart choices and take care of the ball.
"I think it was good, just having that one-on-one with Coach Locks," Rowe said Wednesday. "Just immediately trying to get better and getting ready for Michigan. … He was able to help make the corrections, and it really kind of bugged me the whole bus ride. I'm really kind of trying to focus in on what my job is and not trying to do too much."
"Not trying to do too much" has come to define Rowe this season in College Park. He's appeared in all four games this season and thrown at least two interceptions in three of those appearances, and his nine picks are the most in the Football Bowl Subdivision. He has the mentality of a "gunslinger," but that sometimes leads to reckless play and bad mistakes.
But Rowe said he's able to get over mistakes quickly, sometimes by thinking about his father telling him to move on when he was in high school, or watching former Maryland quarterback C.J. Brown overcome his own mistakes.
"That's the thing with Caleb which kind of sometimes for me is a little irritating; he doesn't get fazed by it a lot," Locksley said. "It's a short memory. You have to have it when you play that position. … He pretty much displays a very short memory which you want to have from your quarterback. You can't dwell on that last play because you've got to put yourself in the position to learn from it as quickly as you can and try to bounce back."
Locksley reiterated Wednesday not all of Rowe's interceptions have been the quarterback's fault. There has been miscommunication between Rowe and the wide receivers this season, often based off of seeing different things from the defense at the line of scrimmage. In one instance against West Virginia, Locksley said wide receiver Amba Etta-Tawo should have changed his route from a vertical to an out.
Rowe recognized the coverage and threw the ball to the sideline, but Etta-Tawo was nowhere near the play.
Rowe said he met with the wide receivers this week and watched film with them in an effort to get on the same page. He flashed the potential of what he could do with the receiving corps with his 297-yard passing day against South Florida, and he's hoping to return to that form.
With Hurricane Joaquin expected to have an impact on Saturday night's game, conditions might turn both teams' game plans toward ground-based attacks. But no matter the circumstances, Rowe will still be called on to make a few plays against one of the top defenses in the conference and in the country. That's when it becomes most important for him to apply the lessons from his film session with Locksley.
"Feeling like I need to make a play is when I kind of go out of my game a little bit and I do too much," Rowe said. "I feel like I need to and that's when I get in trouble. When things weren't going well last week, I felt like I had to force a ball in there to make a throw that sometimes I'm able to make, but they're not smart decisions. I'm learning."
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