Maryland's offense, backup quarterback 'inconsistent' during scrimmage

COLLEGE PARK — Maryland players are off Sunday, an opportunity to rest their bodies and prepare for the final week of preseason practices. Coaches, meanwhile, will be tucked away inside Gossett Team House watching film from the past week and determining what changes will be made to the Terrapins' depth chart and personnel groupings with the team's Aug. 30 season-opener against James Madison less than two weeks away.

Saturday's scrimmage will be part of that evaluation.


Practice is one thing, but the scrimmage was a chance for players to go out in a game-like setting and try to prove they deserve an opportunity to play a role.

Maryland coach Randy Edsall will have a better understanding of what happened after he watches the film. But, at first glance, the first-team offense was more inconsistent than he would like, in particular backup quarterback Caleb Rowe.


Edsall said he held out starter C.J. Brown to get Rowe work with the first unit. And to Edsall, Rowe held onto the ball too long at times and also made some poor reads, including two that led to interceptions.

"I thought Caleb was very inconsistent today," Edsall said. "Didn't think he made a lot of good decisions out there, and that's one of things I wanted to see."

Rowe was 16 of 27 for 227 yards with two touchdowns, but he also had the two interceptions and had two more passes that bounced off defenders' hands. One of the interceptions was returned for a touchdown by cornerback Jeremiah Johnson.

"Coach is right," said Rowe, a junior. "Little inconsistent, but that comes with reps. I didn't really know I was going with the first-team until yesterday or today, so it just comes with more reps, and I'm still a little young. I haven't gotten as much playing time as C.J. He runs it well, and I feel like it just comes with more experience."

One of the bright spots was a 63-yard touchdown pass from Rowe to wide receiver Deon Long three plays into the first-team offense's second possession. Rowe completed a short pass to Long across the middle and Long avoided two tacklers before outrunning the defense on his way to the end zone. Long finished with eight catches for 136 yards.

Rowe also threw a touchdown to redshirt freshman Taivon Jacobs, whom teammates and coaches have praised throughout the summer.

Jacobs ran with the first-team offense in place of Stefon Diggs — likely so Edsall could get a look at Jacobs with the starters. Jacobs only had three catches for 28 yards, but he did have that 27-yard touchdown.

"Some good and some bad today," Edsall said of the offense. "But the biggest thing today is to get a look at different guys and see what they could do and so we can evaluate some more."


Edsall also got an extended look at running backs Albert Reid and Wes Brown.

First-team running back Brandon Ross was held out, giving Reid and Brown more opportunities. Reid had 41 yards on 10 carries, but 23 yards came on one run. Brown, meanwhile, had just 11 yards on his first seven carries but broke several tackles on a 27-yard run later and finished with 52 yards on 12 carries.

Diggs had five catches for 30 yards working primarily with the second-team offense and former Gilman quarterback Shane Cockerille, but he also had a fumble.

Defensively, Johnson had the interception he returned for a touchdown and safety Sean Davis had the other interception of Rowe. Reserve safety Denzel Conyers and freshman cornerback Josh Woods (McDonogh) both intercepted third-string quarterback Perry Hills.

The defense also got good pressure from outside linebackers Yannick Ngakoue and Yannik Cudjoe-Virgil. Ngakoue, who was used mostly as a situational pass rusher with the first-team defense, had a strip-sack, several pressures as well as a pass deflection. Defensive end Quinton Jefferson had a sack and recovered Rowe's fumble on the Ngakoue strip.

"[That's] very encouraging because that's our main thing as a defense is to stop the run and make them a one-dimensional team passing, and our linemen [were] able to put pressure on them," said Davis, who also forced a fumble on special teams that he recovered and returned for a touchdown. "We didn't really have to blitz a lot of the linebackers or safeties today, so it was good to see that we can get that done in our base packages."