Caleb Rowe will make his fourth career start for Maryland at quarterback against South Florida on Saturday, his first start since the end of October 2013. In his career, he has been a staple in relief, appearing in 15 games in his first three-plus years in College Park. But this marks the first time he has been handed the keys to the Terps offense with the opportunity to seize the job for the long haul.
Here's a look at how Rowe fared in his first three starts.
Skinny: Rowe's first career start came one week after he relieved an injured Perry Hills and Devin Burns against N.C. State to lead the Terps on a two-minute drill to get into field-goal range for a potential game-winner that Brad Craddock missed. And once again Rowe was poised for some heroics when Maryland got the ball back with 52 seconds after Boston College scored the go-ahead touchdown. But Rowe threw an interception, sealing an Eagles win.
Despite the three interceptions, Rowe's performance in this game was solid. He did what any player making his first career start would or should do — he got the ball into his playmakers' hands. Wide receiver Stefon Diggs had 11 catches, his career high, for 152 yards, the second-highest total of his career. In the injury-riddled nightmare that was the 2012 season, it signaled some hope for the Terps at the quarterback position. Until Rowe tore his anterior cruciate ligament scrambling out of bounds in the fourth quarter.
Skinny: Rowe turned in one of the best statistical performances by a quarterback in the Randy Edsall era in this last-second victory over the rival Cavaliers. Rowe's 332 passing yards are the second most by a Maryland quarterback under Edsall — Danny O'Brien threw for 348 yards in Edsall's debut against Miami in 2011 — and he didn't throw any interceptions.
Once again, Rowe showed a propensity to get the ball to his playmakers, as Diggs finished with six catches for 96 yards and wide receiver Deon Long had four catches for 98 yards, including an acrobatic catch on a 47-yard prayer in double coverage from Rowe in the fourth quarter. Rowe hit tight end Dave Stinebaugh on a 12-yard touchdown pass with 5 minutes, 14 seconds left to send the Terps on their way.
Of course, Maryland got a little help when Virginia kicker Alec Vozenilek missed a potential game-winning field goal late.
Skinny: At this point in the 2013 season, injuries had once again taken center stage for Maryland. When Rowe subbed for an injured C.J. Brown, he was without Diggs and Long at wide receiver, running back Brandon Ross and Stinebaugh at tight end. And he was facing a tough and talented defense. But Maryland hung tough — the Terps trailed 16-13 early in the third quarter — but eventually, the Tigers were too much.
Rowe once again showed questionable decision making with his two interceptions, but another Maryland wide receiver was able to have a career day with Rowe under center. Levern Jacobs caught eight passes for 158 yards and a touchdown, which came on a 71-yard catch and run in the first quarter, and he'll be starting against South Florida. Maryland struggled to move the ball, but it's doubtful that the Bulls will have the talent to match what Clemson trotted out two years ago.
Overall evaluation: It's a small sample size to work with in terms of Rowe's starts, but in his extended action in College Park, some patterns do emerge. He's going to put the ball in his playmakers' hands and let them make big plays. But he's also going to make some mistakes in the process. Obviously, the key for Rowe will be to avoid throwing interceptions. In the lone start he won, he didn't throw an interception.