For Maryland football, staying healthy is anything but a snap
By Tracee Hamilton,
The ideal story line, of course, would be Shawn Petty leading Maryland to a two-touchdown victory Saturday over Georgia Tech, earning the starting quarterback job for the rest of the season and giving Terps fans a reason to remain Terps fans for one more season.
Oh, and that his knees remain intact. That’s an integral plot point.
All of this is a tall order, of course. Petty was a two-way player at Eleanor Roosevelt High School, but a linebacker at Maryland. He’s a freshman who began to learn the offense two weeks ago. His backup will be another freshman, tight end Brian McMahon, also a two-way player in at Atholton High School.
Forget throwing out the record books. At Maryland, throw out the roster. The coaching staff is moving players around as the injuries pile up: four injured quarterbacks, three with torn ACLs, three of those injuries in seven days. It’s a “Friday Night Lights” script that was rejected as too contrived. The moral, I guess, is this: Sign more quarterbacks out of high school, even if you have no intention of playing them at quarterback. Because if you’re the Terrapins, you never know.
These injuries have made for a strange season in College Park, a treading-water kind of season. Originally, the 2012 campaign — the football kind, not the other one — was meant to be a referendum on Coach Randy Edsall, a chance to see what he could accomplish in his second season. The Terps have doubled their victories from a season ago — to four — but it’s hard to know if that means much, given the patchwork lineup. Then again, the Redskins would love to have a two-game bump.
So now next season will be a referendum on Edsall, because you can’t judge a coach on this mess, not if you’re trying to be fair. You also can’t put much weight on the performance of his assistants — you’ll remember that some of them are making a boatload of money — given the injuries. Although if they put a linebacker at quarterback and win, maybe you can judge them. That would be some impressive teaching and some impressive recruiting as well.
It also says something for the Terps that they may have the worst injuries among our area teams (it even spread to the women’s basketball team, which lost starting point guard Brene Moseley for the season to an ACL tear). The Redskins are competitive in this category. By now, Pierre Garcon’s toe should have its own entry, and Maryland hasn’t lost a just-recovered-from-injury player in pregame warmups. (Brandon Meriweather is carted to and from Redskins Park on a dolly, like Hannibal Lector, and then he’s encased in bubble wrap and left in a padded room for the night. No stairs, no sharp objects.)
The Wizards are competitive in the injury race, with John Wall, Nene and Kevin Seraphin out as the season begins. (If I were Nene, I’d have surgery on that plantar fasciitis — the relief from pain is incredible, and all the rest in the world isn’t going to fix it. Rest will make it feel better until he starts playing again, when it will start hurting again, and he’ll be back on the bench. The Wizards act unconcerned, but I think that’s what it is: an act.) Anyway, from a percentage-of-the-roster standpoint, the Wizards win.
But losing four quarterbacks — quarterbacks — that’s a different level of bad luck. That’s a scary kind of “your field is smack dab on the site of an ancient Native American burial ground” bad luck.
The good luck? The Terps play in the ACC, not exactly a powerhouse football conference. They have four wins, which is not impressive but matches Virginia Tech’s total and tops Virginia by two. A five-win season would be impressive, given the parameters. But although the ACC has just two teams in the BCS top 25 — Florida State and Clemson — here’s more of that bad luck: The Terps face them on back-to-back weekends later this month.
Wonder who’ll be the quarterback by then?
For previous columns by Tracee Hamilton, visit washingtonpost.com/hamilton.