Maryland football has few problems with Morgan State in 62-3 blowout

By Eric Prisbell
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, September 12, 2010; 12:34 AM

Before Maryland's demolition of an inferior opponent was even complete Saturday night, focus in College Park had already shifted to a quarterback situation that becomes more intriguing by the week.

Starting quarterback Jamarr Robinson threw two touchdown passes in a 62-3 rout of Morgan State, helping the Terrapins pile up more points than they had in 35 years. But Robinson was replaced in the second quarter by backup Danny O'Brien, who wowed coaches and fans alike by throwing three touchdowns in the first four pass attempts of his career. Maryland's coaches had planned to play both quarterbacks, much like they did in the season-opening victory against Navy. But the combination of O'Brien's impressive showing and Robinson's tendency to miss some open receivers Saturday adds uncertainty to the quarterback position as the team prepares for what should be a difficult game at West Virginia next Saturday.

Coach Ralph Friedgen said he would evaluate tape before commenting at length on the performance of both quarterbacks. James Franklin, Maryland's offensive coordinator, believes he has two quarterbacks worthy of being starters at an ACC level.

"At this point, we'll play both," Franklin said. "That could change after watching film, discussing it as a staff and talking to Ralph Friedgen."

Wide receiver Torrey Smith, who caught a touchdown pass from each quarterback, said: "No quarterback controversy. We have two guys who can get the job done."

O'Brien sprained his right ankle on a third-quarter running play when a defender pulled him back, but he said it is not serious and that he would be ready to play next week. O'Brien also said he was healthy enough keep playing the rest of the third quarter if Maryland needed him.

The Terrapins were ahead 48-3 at that point and instead turned to third-stringer C.J. Brown. But on the first play of Brown's career, he rushed for 12 yards on a designed running play and broke his collarbone. Friedgen said he would be out eight weeks.

The memory of Saturday's game will fade, but the meaning of the blowout was not insignificant for the 40,099 fans at Byrd Stadium. A year ago the Terrapins could not find an inferior opponent, much less pulverize one; they won two games all season by a total of six points.

On Saturday, they matched their 2009 win total with a performance that illustrated the difference in this year's team. Less than a week after finishing off Navy with a goal line stand, the Terrapins (2-0) started Saturday's game with enthusiasm and efficiency, crushing hopes of their smaller, slower division I-AA opponent in the first quarter.

Maryland outgained Morgan State, 140-2, in first-quarter yardage, at times moving the ball as if defended by empty jerseys. In a game as competitive as a pep rally, one of the Bears' few highlights occurred at halftime, when the school's marching band performed with gusto as its football team contemplated a 45-0 deficit. The Terrapins also held Morgan State to 85 total yards, the fewest of the Friedgen era.

"I think we are better than last year, no question about it," Friedgen said. "We'll get a better estimate on where we are this week."

Morgan State (1-1) offered the Terrapins little resistance in a warmup act for next Saturday's game at West Virginia, which rallied from a 15-point fourth-quarter deficit to beat Marshall, 24-21, in overtime on Friday night. One issue Friedgen will undoubtedly focus on this week: penalties. The Terrapins racked up 110 penalty yards and committed four personal fouls in the first quarter alone.

Friedgen was concerned about a short preparation week and the energy level of his players after an emotional and physical game with Navy on Labor Day. But the Terrapins started strong and fast.

"Normally, I am not a big fan of these games" against division I-AA opponents, Friedgen said. "But in this, it did show me something about our players."

On Maryland's first drive, Robinson ran to his right and fired a pass to Smith for a five-yard touchdown reception. Robinson next engineered an eight-play, 91-yard drive that he capped when he threw a quick out to wide receiver Adrian Cannon, who ran 19 yards almost untouched to the end zone. Robinson also threw an interception.

Travis Baltz made the score 17-0 when he nailed a 47-yard field goal. Baltz has been filling in for the injured Nick Ferrara, but Friedgen said Saturday that Baltz is the starter for now regardless of when Ferrara can return.

O'Brien took over at quarterback with just less than 10 minutes remaining in the second quarter. After two running plays, he completed a 27-yard touchdown pass to tight end Matt Furstenburg. He followed with touchdown passes to Smith (24 yards) and running back Da'Rel Scott (22) on Maryland's final two drives of the half.

It was a far different outcome than that of O'Brien's only play against Navy: a botched handoff that resulted in a fumble.

"I prefer chapter two over chapter one," O'Brien said.

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