The Maryland football team opens only six preseason practices to reporters, so observations naturally come with an asterisk attached. Coach Randy Edsall can put individual performances in context, but without observing the daily progressions, gleaning trends can be difficult. Was a particular outing indicative of a larger trend, an aberration or perhaps something, positive or negative, that just coincidentally happens whenever the cameras show up?
With that in mind, starting quarterback C.J. Brown appears to have progressed since this spring, when he was still shaking the rust off from that rehabilitated torn ACL. But until he starts feeling pressure from defensive linemen who want to drill him into the turf – not gingerly tap his red protective jersey – it will be difficult to glean much of consequence.
That said, Brown has shown no ill effects from the surgery, cutting with ease on that knee. With the ligament restored, Brown can focus on honing the offense’s communication skills, something that sorely needed work last season as the Terps rotated through four quarterbacks.
“What has to happen, is they need time to develop some togetherness and timing,” Edsall said. “That’s starting to come along with each practice. He’s moving really well. Like I said, He can always be better, he will be better, but it’s that process we have to go through.”
Brown’s passing accuracy, at least in drills open to media members, has hovered around 40-50 percent, hardly the level Maryland needs, especially with the high-percentage short passes that are standard in offensive coordinator Mike Locksley’s spread offense. Brown looked solid Friday afternoon running the read option, twice making the correct call during red-zone drills and keeping it up the middle for a touchdown. He completed just 6 of 13 passes during another drill, but also got the defense to bite on a hard play-fake, finding a wide-open Stefon Diggs in the back of the end zone for a short-yardage score.
“Just felt comfortable, felt natural. Day by day I just feel a lot more comfortable being out here,” Brown said. “Our offense executed pretty well, we didn’t have many [missed assignments], and we were able to put the ball in the end zone, convert on third down, move the ball down the field.”
After one week of camp, Brown said the offense has already cut down on many mental mistakes, some typical in the early-going. But one thing he stressed above all else: communication.
“It depends how long you wait until you fix it,” Brown said. “Me being a veteran guy, maybe first three practices we weren’t making the right calls, and we weren’t on the same page, and it was obvious watching film. So me and [center] Sal [Conaboy], we both had a meeting, we talked at length.…Just be confident. Make the call. If it’s wrong, it’s wrong. But at least we’re on the same page. We’ll fix it later. But at the time in the moment, on the field, we don’t have time for that. We have to be on the same page. I’m behind you, I can see more than you guys can. But be confident with your calls. You know what to do. Don’t be shy.”