After C.J. Brown, Maryland’s quarterback options are limited


C.J. Brown, who led Maryland on two fourth-quarter scoring drives against Notre Dame last weekend, will get the start against Wake Forest with Danny O’Brien out for the season. (Toni L. Sandys/WASHINGTON POST)
November 18, 2011

Maryland fans will hold their collective breath every time quarterback C.J. Brown scrambles to evade pass rushers or runs past the line of scrimmage Saturday against Wake Forest.

If Brown gets knocked out of the game — as he did in the Oct. 22 loss at Florida State — Terrapins Coach Randy Edsall said Thursday that he will turn to senior wide receiver-return man Tony Logan, who last played quarterback in high school.

Maryland’s only other option at quarterback is freshman Troy Jones, a walk-on who has not seen action this season.

The loss of sophomore Danny O’Brien, who broke a bone in his upper non-throwing arm last week against Notre Dame, has left Maryland (2-8, 1-5 ACC) in a precarious position at quarterback heading into its final two games of the season.

Running with the ball may increase the likelihood that Brown gets hurt. But running with the ball is what Brown does best — he rushed for a total of 286 yards against Georgia Tech and Clemson — and Edsall is not going to hold Brown back despite the absence of a proven backup.

“We are going to do the things that C.J. can do the best and the things that exploit Wake Forest the best,” Edsall said. “We are going to attack them the best way possible. We can’t hold anything back. We have to do anything we can to win the football game.”

Since O’Brien was benched in the second quarter of the Oct. 8 loss at Georgia Tech, he and Brown have engaged in a weekly quarterback competition. Little has been clear about who would start each game or how the in-game rotation would play out. Brown, who will make his fourth start Saturday, never wanted to become the starter because of injury, but he acknowledged “it’s nice knowing that you’re the guy after all these weeks of not knowing what the situation is.”

With O’Brien out, Brown’s point can be underlined: the quarterback shuffle is indeed over.

“Do you have any suggestions as to who the other quarterbacks would be that we would rotate in there?” Edsall said. “Last I looked, I’m not too sure we have anybody after C.J.”

Logan, who has been an explosive punt returner during his career, may be well suited for the spread-option offense. As a senior at Piscataway High in New Jersey, he threw for 1,500 yards with 10 touchdowns. He also ran for 500 yards and five touchdowns.

Much less is known about the abilities of Jones, a 6-foot-1, 186-pound freshman from St. Paul’s School in Reisterstown, Md. Aside from Brown, Jones is the only other healthy quarterback on the roster. Brown said Jones has worked on the scout team all season and has not gotten many reps with the offense.

“He is a young man that has never played before,” Edsall said, “a young man who has come here as a walk-on who is working very, very hard and has learned a lot from a mental standpoint but has never been on the field for us.”

As for Brown, the sophomore is not as skilled of a passer as O’Brien. Brown has completed 49.5 percent of his passes this season and has thrown five touchdowns and four interceptions. But he did lead the Terrapins on two fourth-quarter scoring drives against Notre Dame and on Saturday will look to make use of thriving wide receiver Quintin McCree, who has 25 receptions in his last four games.

“We all trust C.J. and we are comfortable with him back there,” offensive lineman Justin Gilbert said. “We are going to finish out the last two games with him and hopefully Danny gets better and comes back from this as well as I know he will.”

Brown said he would use the final two games — the Terrapins close the season at North Carolina State on Nov. 26 — as somewhat of an audition for next season. Brown also expects to engage in a competition with O’Brien in spring practice.

Recruited by former offensive coordinator James Franklin, Brown never envisioned such a scarcity of quarterbacks when he arrived in 2009.

“It’s definitely crazy,” Brown said. “We always talk about that at one time there used to be six of us. Now there’s only me and Danny on scholarship, and unfortunately he is hurt. We have two more guys coming in next year, I am pretty sure. But it’s definitely tough right now — slim pickings.”

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