One game after he threw four interceptions and was pulled in the third quarter of a 45-6 loss to West Virginia, Caleb Rowe will start at quarterback for Maryland against Michigan in Saturday night's Big Ten Conference opener, coach Randy Edsall said Sunday.
"As we all know, it doesn't all fall on him. He has to be better and everybody around him," Edsall said during his weekly conference call. "The offensive line, the running backs, the wide receivers all have to be better."
Rowe completed 10 of 27 passes for 67 yards and four interceptions — two of which were in the end zone — against West Virginia. He was lifted in favor of backup Daxx Garman late in the third quarter of the defeat, and Garman was 4 of 9 for 86 yards, a touchdown and interception.
When Rowe was elevated to starter two weeks ago, the thought was that he would help improve the vertical passing game with his strong arm and his gunslinger mentality. And though he threw four touchdowns against South Florida in his first start of the season, Rowe has been plagued by interceptions this season.
Rowe's nine picks are the most in the Football Bowl Subdivision, with five other quarterbacks tied for second-most with six. The redshirt junior has thrown an interception every 7.1 pass attempts and his six yards per pass attempt rank 107th nationally.
After the loss, Edsall reiterated that he's looking for better decision making from Rowe.
"Caleb's going to learn from it," Edsall said Saturday. "He's got to learn from it. He's got to learn to take what's given to him. He's got to get out of the mentality of thinking that people are open when they're not and forcing things and just take what the defense gives you and if you do that, you have a better opportunity."
The problems in the passing game on Saturday seemed to extend beyond Rowe's decision making, though. Whether it was Rowe or Garman under center, the wide receivers and tight ends rarely seemed to be on the same page, with pass catchers not turning around for passes or balls sailing to empty areas of the field. Even on wide receiver Jahrvis Davenport's 46-yard touchdown catch from Garman in the fourth quarter, the freshman appeared to flinch when he turned and saw the ball coming his way.
"I just think that it's always a combination of things that can happen. … We just always have to have everybody on offense in sync: the O-line, the tight ends, the running backs, wide receivers and the quarterback," Edsall said Sunday. "When you do, you can usually execute at a high level. If everybody's not doing all the things necessary, you can't be as productive as you'd like to be, and that's what we've got to do."
Rowe has appeared in four games this season and thrown multiple interceptions in three of those games. He threw for nearly 300 yards against South Florida and was able to hit defenders down the field, but that chemistry and element of the offense was absent in Morgantown, W.Va.
And so on Saturday night in prime time before a national television audience on the Big Ten Network, Rowe will get another shot at Michigan.
"You can't just single out one person," right guard Andrew Zeller said Saturday. "It was the whole team. Offense, defense and special teams who didn't compete at the level we needed to compete at in order to win to his game, and that's why we lost."
Terps prepping for Wolverines
Less than 24 hours after the loss to West Virginia ended, Edsall said he had moved on to preparing for Saturday's game against Michigan.
"We started this afternoon," Edsall said. "We looked at the film, graded the film, sat down and talked about it as a staff and went through the film with the players to make those corrections."
Michigan entered the Associated Press top 25 on Sunday afternoon at No. 22. The Wolverines have won three straight games after dropping their season opener under first-year coach Jim Harbaugh. Michigan dispatched a tough BYU team, 31-0, on Saturday.
Edsall is 0-10 against top 25 teams with Maryland and 1-26 for his career.
Terps still healthy
Edsall said Maryland avoided any major injuries against West Virginia. Defensive tackle Quinton Jefferson and cornerback Sean Davis were helped off the field at different points during the game, but Edsall said overall, the team is fine.
"Nothing serious," Edsall said. "Should be OK with everybody going forward, just other than the bumps and the bruises and those things. We should be in good shape."