Starting quarterback C.J. Brown, who suffered a concussion last Saturday against Florida State, is listed as doubtful on the latest Maryland football injury report, meaning he is unlikely to play against Virginia on Saturday.
The injury occurred just before halftime at Doak Campbell Stadium, when Brown absorbed a punishing helmet-to-chest blow from Seminoles defensive lineman Jacobbi McDaniel that bent Brown backwards and crumpled him into the grass. The hit’s aftermath, which whipped Brown’s helmet against the ground, likely caused the concussion rather than the force of McDaniel himself.
If Brown cannot play, backup Caleb Rowe will make his second career start and seventh career appearance. He played in garbage time against Florida International, Old Dominion and West Virginia this season and started against Boston College last season when Perry Hills and Devin Burns both suffered season-ending injuries the week before. Replacing Brown against the Seminoles, Rowe completed 9 of 17 attempts for 119 yards, but Maryland never made it past midfield with the sophomore under center.
Rowe attempted 42 passes in Maryland’s 20-17 loss to Boston College last season but threw three interceptions (the Eagles only had 10 total interceptions in 2012). He suffered a torn ACL while scrambling out of bounds on the Terrapins’ penultimate play from scrimmage and missed the rest of the season.
Given Rowe’s deficiencies in the zone-read offense relative to Brown, expect Maryland to incorporate more pass options into its scheme if Rowe must start. Rowe lacks the big-play rushing potential that Brown has, but can still chew up yardage and is smart enough to slide when necessary. His arm strength is seen as a plus, given Maryland’s arsenal of receivers.
With no prior history of concussions, Brown progressed through Maryland’s concussion recovery protocol this week, which includes ImPACT testing, a video game-like computer program that measures neurocognitive strength relative to a baseline score calculated before the season, when players are at full strength. During his weekly chat with reporters on Thursday afternoon, Coach Randy Edsall provided no formal word on Brown’s testing results or his recovery process.
Given his doubtful status, a slim possibility remains that Brown could still suit up on Saturday. But there’s a big difference between warming up as a decoy and actually taking live snaps against the Cavaliers.
“You look at who they have right now, looking at the depth chart and who is listed and he’s listed right now, but you did get a chance to see the second quarterback go in the latter part of the Florida State game,” Virginia Coach Mike London told reporters on Monday. “You try to look at this quarterback, the system, and the schemes that they play — that will be the main focus. Obviously C.J. is a guy that can run the ball, does it very well, and, you know, we’ll see how it goes throughout the week. But we’ll get ready for the system that they play.”