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Maryland coaches want C.J. Brown to be more aggressive as a runner

Maryland quarterback C.J. Brown is congratulated by head coach Randy Edsall following a touchdown against Ohio State.
Maryland quarterback C.J. Brown is congratulated by head coach Randy Edsall following a touchdown against Ohio State. (Mitch Stringer / USA Today Sports)

COLLEGE PARK — Maryland quarterback C.J. Brown's focus this summer was on becoming a more consistent and efficient passer. And for much of the first half of the Terps' season, Brown has sat in the pocket and tried to prove he can regularly make plays with his arm.

The problem with that? Brown has gotten away some from using his main asset — his legs.

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As Maryland prepares for the second half of its season, Terps coaches have reminded Brown to take advantage if he has an opportunity to make a play as a runner.

"I think the big thing is that we emphasize using your skill set," Maryland offensive coordinator Mike Locksley said. "And when things aren't there — because it's one of his strongpoints as a good athlete back in the pocket — if plays are there to be made with your feet, don't hesitate to make the play."

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Coach Randy Edsall said something similar.

"I think what C.J. has to do is make sure he goes out there and plays to his strengths and utilize all the ability he has to help our team get better and win games and move the ball," Edsall said.

That's not to say Brown hasn't made plays as a runner this season.

Brown ran for 61 yards and three touchdowns against James Madison on Aug. 30 and 161 yards and a touchdown against West Virginia on Sept. 13.

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Brown also had a touchdown run against Indiana on Sept. 27 as well as a 15-yard run to convert a fourth down during the first half against Ohio State Oct. 4.

However, without counting sacks, Brown has not run more than 11 times in any of the Terps' first six games after running an average of 11 times in the 10 games in which he saw a full workload last season.

Brown also ran an average of 14.7 times per game the three times he played from start to finish in 2011.

"I think the biggest thing is trying not to force things but understanding not to get away from my athleticism and the ability to still use my feet," Brown said. "I feel like that was the biggest thing going back and looking at the film and looking at the tapes is that I'm leaving some plays out there that in the past I've made. Just trying to get back to that."

Doing so would likely help a running game that has struggled in recent weeks.

The Terps' offensive line has had trouble creating running lanes of late, which is part of the reason Maryland's running backs are averaging just 3.5 yards per carry the last four games.

Getting the running game going again is one of the goals Terps coaches and players have outlined going into Saturday's game against Iowa.

"We need to be able to pound the ball," Brown said. "That'll be something that we definitely have an emphasis on, and that falls on me, too. I've got to be able to run better, too."

The Terps are also still looking for more from Brown as a passer.

Brown has completed 58 percent of his passes, missed on some throws down the field that could have produced big gains and has made mistakes such as his interception late in the first half against Ohio State that allowed the Buckeyes to stretch their lead to 31-10.

There have been good moments. Brown threw a 77-yard touchdown against West Virginia and completed 10 of 15 passes for 163 yards and a touchdown and no interceptions before spraining his wrist late in the first half against Indiana.

"Just [got to] continue to not make mistakes, the silly mental errors, and making sure that everyone's on the same page and getting people lined up, making throws when they're there, not forcing things but taking what the defense gives me," Brown said. "And if it's not there, take off. I can't get away from using my legs and my athleticism."

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