With Maryland Coach Randy Edsall remaining mum on who his team’s starting quarterback will be for Saturday’s game against Virginia, Cavaliers Coach Mike London said Wednesday his staff has not prepared game plans for both Danny O’Brien and C.J. Brown. Rather, London said, Virginia is concerning itself with Maryland’s offensive system as a whole.
“For us, it’s not as much the who, but it’s the what, in terms of their offense,” London said during his segment of the ACC coaches’ teleconference. “They’re two very good quarterbacks in their own right, but they have a great running back in Davin Meggett. They have wide receivers that are explosive receivers to the ball if the ball’s going down the field to ’em. There’s other elements that we have to make sure that we take a good look at and provide a game plan that can attest to a lot of things that they have, maybe not so much as to who the quarterback is going to be.”
O’Brien, who was the 2010 ACC rookie of the year, started the first five games of the season for the Terrapins. Brown, also a sophomore, has started the past three games for Maryland. They are listed as interchangeable atop Maryland’s depth chart at quarterback.
Of the two, O’Brien is known as the more proficient passer, though his stat line this season has not been pretty. He has completed 57.4 percent of his throws for 1,275 yards, six touchdowns and seven interceptions.
Brown, meantime, is known as much more of an athletic threat. He has attempted the third-most rushes on the team (46) and is averaging 7.2 yards per carry. He has rushed for 332 yards and two touchdowns. Brown has completed 47.6 percent of his passes for 375 yards, four touchdowns and three interceptions.
“Obviously, each one of them brings something to the table in terms of their abilities,” London said. “But when you look at them, I know C.J. does a great job of adding the running elements to his game and becomes another option for them in their running game. But he can throw the ball, as well. With Danny O’Brien, he’s already had documented evidence of being able to run an offense and make plays because of his accolades last year and just his type of poise that he plays with.”
Virginia’s defense is vastly improved against the run this season, so it will be interesting to see how the Terrapins – and whichever quarterback they go with – try to test the Cavaliers through the air. Virginia’s pass defense has demonstrated considerable deficiencies in recent weeks, but Maryland ranks No. 10 in the ACC in passing offense (210.5 yards per game).
When London was asked Monday about his defense’s performance against the pass during Thursday’s 28-21 win at Miami, he partially dismissed the sub-par effort – the Hurricanes tallied 347 passing yards against Virginia – as a matter of being at a significant size disadvantage. Tommy Streeter, Miami’s 6-foot-5 wideout, caught seven passes for 176 yards and two touchdowns during Thursday’s game.
Virginia’s two starting cornerbacks are listed as 6 feet (senior Chase Minnifield) and 5-11 (true freshman Demetrious Nicholson). Reserve cornerback Dom Joseph (6-1) saw extensive playing time against Miami, though he didn’t fare much better.
To exhaust the list of Cavaliers defensive backs who saw significant playing time against the Hurricanes, starting strong safety Rodney McLeod is listed as 5-11, while starting free safety Corey Mosley is listed as 5-10.
“The things that happened against Miami, I think part of that was 6-5 versus 5-10 and 5-11,” London said. “There were a couple shots there where Streeter went up and just made one of those off-the-rim type of grabs. There are things you do defensively by playing through the hands, teaching disruptive techniques that any corner, 5-10, 6-foot, 6-2 corner would have to do and have to make, so we’ve got to be better at that.
“But a couple of the throws, the one that they threw over Chase Minnifield, he’s got one of the better vertical leaps on our team. It was a perfect throw that it was either going to be thrown out of bounds or Streeter was going to make the catch. And he made an unbelievable catch. We tie in that part of the pass defense to the pass rush. It’s not just one position; it’s other positions that are tied into the success of the pass defense.”
Virginia tied a season high with three sacks against Miami and provided consistent pressure on Hurricanes quarterbacks Jacory Harris and Stephen Morris throughout the game.
As for Maryland, the Cavaliers’ secondary won’t have to worry about covering any particularly tall wide receivers. Of the four receivers listed on Maryland’s depth chart, none is taller than 6-2. So it will be a little more of an equal playing field. The Terrapins’ leading receiver, Kevin Dorsey, is listed as 6-2. He has 29 receptions, 362 receiving yards and two touchdowns on the season.
Maryland tight end Matt Furstenberg – the team’s second-leading receiver with 24 receptions, 298 yards and two touchdowns – is listed as 6-4, though he won’t necessarily always be matched up against one of Virginia’s defensive backs.