Has Wes Brown established himself as Maryland’s feature back?

October 22, 2012

Wes Brown, bottled up here by Wake Forest two years ago, led the Terps’ ground attack against N.C. State on Saturday. (Toni Sandys/The Washington Post)

Wes Brown was adamant that he had not done enough to earn Maryland’s starting running back job.

Coach Randy Edsall disagreed.

“I thought he played well, and I thought he did a good job,” Edsall said during his Sunday teleconference. “We’ll see where it takes us.”

Guarded as usual about the Terps starting lineup, it would likely take a shocker for Brown to not receive the bulk of the carries against Boston College. He was Maryland’s first 100-yard rusher since 2011 despite not seeing any action in the first quarter. Once Devin Burns entered for an injured Perry Hills and the read option became a viable offensive asset, Brown found open holes and finished his runs with broken tackles and powerful bursts.

Justus Pickett and Albert Reid combined for 21 yards on seven carries. Only one of those carries came after the first quarter. And for the second straight game, Brandon Ross never saw the field. Brown was the dominant feature back he was expected to become before turnovers and injuries derailed that train.

Still, what made the freshman so “sick” after the game was a fourth-quarter fumble that, while not directly leading to North Carolina State points, cost Maryland precious time of possession.

“We just have to make sure that Wes understands the situations, you’ve got to get two hands on the ball,” Edsall said. “It was another tough learning experience there for him and us.”

Brown has battled fumbling issues before this season, including two against Temple, but was a quick learner in wrapping up the football in traffic. He missed the Virginia game because of a shoulder issue, and was carrying the ball in that injured arm when it squirted out just past the line of scrimmage against N.C. State.

An animated running back, Brown is often seen flexing his muscles or celebrating after big runs. Like kicker Brad Craddock, he can navigate a range of emotions on game day. After twice coughing up the ball against the Owls, Brown wanted to slam his helmet on the ground, ultimately deciding to the contrary, lest he risk an appearance on SportsCenter’s “Not Top 10.” Saturday, he went from the highs of a potential win to accepting full responsibility for a heartbreaking 20-18 loss.

“I don’t think it’ll affect his confidence at all,” Edsall said. “That’s the one thing we try to talk about here in our program, accountability. If something comes up and you were wrong, people make mistakes, just admit to them and move forward, learn from it.

“I think that’s all part of the growing process, and I think the guys listen to that. Sometimes it’s tough, but I know Wes will be better for it. You hate to see him put the ball on the ground, but I don’t think we’ll that happen again in that situation.”

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