Maryland’s backup quarterback situation disappoints coaching staff

August 28, 2013

(Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)

Among the Maryland football coaching staff, the biggest preseason disappointment comes at backup quarterback, where neither Caleb Rowe nor Ricardo Young has separated himself to justify winning the job outright. The Terrapins are confident either could lead the team under dire circumstances – like, say, starter C.J. Brown suffering another injury – but the jumbled situation has spawned some displeasure.

“You would love to come out and say somebody is just the clear-cut guy,” offensive coordinator Mike Locksley said Wednesday. “Coming out of camp right now, I’d say they both have had their moments, that’s Ricardo and Caleb. It’s something we’d like to try to get figured out sooner rather than later. We need someone to step up and maybe take ownership of it. And we haven’t gotten that.”

If the biggest controversy Maryland confronts all season comes at backup quarterback, the team will take it. But Coach Randy Edsall would still prefer some clarity. Two weeks ago, he axed Perry Hills from the race and seemed prepared to rule between Young and Rowe. Three days before the season opener against Florida International, that verdict has yet to be made.

“Maybe if the separation hasn’t taken place, I’ll make the separation myself and decide that somebody’s going to be the number two guy,” Edsall said Tuesday. “Right now we’re working both guys, Caleb and Ricardo, and I’d like to get where we have a number two and give that guy all the reps. Hopefully he won’t have to play, but I’d rather have one guy getting all the reps and the other guy standing over there, rather than sharing the reps.”

Locksley said both Rowe and Young have experienced inconsistent preseasons. Rowe can become overzealous in the pocket, his arm an inaccurate cannon. Young would appear to fit Locksley’s system best, and most mirrors Brown’s abilities, but still has never played a college game and slogged through his own issues during camp.

Again, the issue lies not with trust in Rowe and Young, but rather in that neither has stepped up. If the Terps indeed need a backup on Saturday, they still haven’t figured out what they will do. Maybe Young, maybe Rowe, maybe a spur-of-the-moment gut call. Those decisions, Locksley said, will be made during personnel meetings on Thursday.

“I’m not too concerned as far as who that guy is, I’m just concerned that we haven’t had a guy separate himself,” Locksley said. “Any one of those guys, in my opinion, is capable of going out there, if something happened to C.J. But we want to put the best guy out there and we still don’t know who the best guy is, if something were to happen to C.J.”

As for Hills, who started seven games last season before tearing his ACL, his demotion to fourth string appears to reflect a quarterback still healing from that injury.

“You can tell Perry’s not — in my opinion, I’m not the medical staff — but I saw Perry at 100 percent last year, and it’s safe to say that I don’t think he’s back to where he was at the point prior to his injury,” Locksley said.

>> Edsall named Brandon Ross the starting running back on Tuesday, but Locksley expects both Ross and Albert Reid to receive meaningful carries against Florida International.

“Big thing with Brandon is, he has more of a comfort level in the system,” Locksley said. “Last year he was a guy who made a lot of mistakes. Even though the abilities was there, you didn’t know if he would be in the right place. I think now with the consistency of the same offensive system two years in a row, he has a pretty good grasp of it, it’s taken away some of the thinking and the thought process that went on last year.”

Reid, in Locksley’s mind, is option “1B,” a surprisingly agile runner who has grown frustrated that he’s been labeled a “short-yardage back” after receiving the bulk of third-and-one carries last year.

Freshman Jacquille Veii (ankle) returned to practice on Tuesday and was spotted walking through Gossett Team House on Wednesday with two taped ankles but nothing else. The day before, he reportedly was sporting an air cast.

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