Offensive coordinator Mike Locksley on Wednesday reiterated the need for Maryland freshman linebacker-turned-quarterback Shawn Petty to avoid turnovers, especially as the caliber of Terps opponents ramps up for the season’s final three weeks. But he also echoed Coach Randy Edsall’s confidence in Maryland’s latest signal-caller.
“I think he’ll continue to get better,” Locksley said. “With each practice, as we talked about last week, he’s only two or three months removed form being a quarterback. He’s done it his whole life. He has some natural quarterback mechanics things. For us, it’s still a matter of figuring out what he’s capable of executing. We’ve tried to do that with each guy, and we’ll try to do that with Shawn.”
Locksley praised Petty’s effort in his collegiate debut, a 33-13 loss to Georgia Tech in which Petty went 9 for 18, threw two touchdown pass and one interception, and lost one fumble.
“It takes a lot for a guy to go out there, limited practice time, limited experience,” Locksley said. “We took a game plan to win the game. Obviously we didn’t get that accomplished. There were mistakes made, and not just with Shawn. We didn’t feel like he protected the football well. That’s something we wanted to come out of that game, if at all limiting turnovers.
“I thought the first half he played like a freshman, like a lot of the other freshmen have done for us, but I thought he got better as the game along. In the second half, the game slowed down. He’ll continue to get better, not just with his performance, but as we’ve seen him under the fire, we have a better understanding of what we can execute in game situations.”
Maryland’s game at No. 10 Clemson on Saturday will present an entirely different challenge, one that perhaps compares to the situation quarterback Perry Hills faced at West Virginia earlier this season. In other words, a similarly hostile environment.
“We’ve got to do what we can to prepare him for that situation,” Locksley said. “That’s where Randy comes into play, the things we do in practice. All we can do is simulate it. The first opportunity to play in an environment like that. That’s where sometimes youth serves you well. You really don’t know. We’ll prepare him for a situation, good venue to play ball in.”