Edsall: No quarterback controversy, changes likely in backfield

October 7, 2012


There is no quarterback controversy in College Park, that much is certain.

Following Maryland’s 19-14 win over Wake Forest in its ACC opener Saturday at Byrd Stadium, Coach Randy Edsall suggested that personnel changes were likely in the upcoming week. That came shortly after he told reporters that the Terps had discussed inserting backup quarterback and converted wide receiver Devin Burns into the game plan,  most likely to run the read-option in offensive coordinator Mike Locksley’s pro-style system.

However, during his Sunday teleconference, Edsall stopped mid-sentence to declare that any perceived controversy under center is non-existent. True freshman Perry Hills, despite his mistakes and missed opportunities, is 3-2 as a college quarterback and will remain Maryland’s starter for the foreseeable future.

Hills, who threw a 63-yard strike to Stefon Diggs that set up Justus Pickett’s game-winning, 1-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter, completed 14 of 25 passes for 191 yards and a 33-yard touchdown to Kevin Dorsey, but had an interception near midfield, throwing out of Maryland’s end zone, lost a fumble to start the second half and coughed up two more that the Terps eventually recovered.

“I thought Perry made some plays there, but the biggest thing we’ve got to get him to do is handle the ball,” Edsall said. “Those are all things we can correct and will correct as we move forward here to Virginia.”

Edsall also came away impressed with the starting debuts of offensive linemen Mike Madaras and Andrew Zeller, a true freshman and redshirt freshman, respectively, even though both had false starts and got beat on occasion.

“I thought they held up pretty good,” Edsall said. “Mike did a pretty good job, he had a couple busts and so did Andrew. We’ve got the right people in there, and now we’ve got to continue to get them reps and get them better, and they’ll get better. I didn’t think they were mismatched or anything like that. They did their job, but a lot of room for improvement, and you expect that out of true freshman and a redshirt freshman.”

So if changes aren’t imminent under center and along the offensive line, that leaves the backfield. Pickett and Wes Brown will likely be “doing the heavy load stuff” against Virginia, Edsall said. Pickett again had the game-winning touchdown, while Brown finished with a team-high 23 yards on 10 carries.

At least until the fourth quarter, each of Maryland’s four co-starting running backs seemed to have defined roles: Brown and Brandon Ross were the first- and second-down backs, often lining up in two-back packages; Albert Reid got the short-yardage carries; Pickett was the third-down back, often targeted on swing passes like he was against West Virginia.

Not anymore.

“Of the three wins we’ve had, the guy who has stepped up big for us at the end of the game has been Justus Pickett,” Edsall said.

Pickett had a key block on Diggs’s jaunt, and dove over the pile for the game-winning score three plays later. The Terps managed just 53 rushing yards against the ACC’s worst run defense, so it makes sense that Edsall will want to shake things up in the backfield. Ross had five carries for seven yards, none after Maryland’s third drive. Brown had seven carries in the third quarter, while all of Pickett’s 10 carries came in the fourth quarter.

Alex Prewitt covers the Washington Capitals. Follow him on Twitter @alex_prewitt or email him at alex.prewitt@washpost.com.
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