The freshman linebacker will be the starting quarterback for Maryland. The freshman tight end will be the backup. They will still wear Nos. 31 and 87, respectively. The third-stringer will be a game-time decision. Heads will continue to spin at the unorthodox sight when the Terrapins play Georgia Tech on Saturday at Byrd Stadium.
Regardless of how Shawn Petty performs in his collegiate quarterbacking debut, however, Coach Randy Edsall said he’s committed to the Eleanor Roosevelt graduate, who was recruited to college to play linebacker and likely would have redshirted this year had a cavalcade of injuries not made the Terps’ backfield look like a Monty Python body cart.
“Right now, Shawn would be our quarterback,” Edsall said Wednesday. “It’s not going to be the quick hook or anything along those lines.”
Not that Maryland has many options left. Petty’s backup will be tight end Brian McMahon, himself a high school quarterback at Atholton High School under Kyle Schmitt, a former Maryland offensive lineman. Described by Edsall as an “unassuming” player like Petty who’s displayed intelligence to pick things up quickly, McMahon would also have picked up a redshirt had quarterbacks Perry Hills, Devin Burns and Caleb Rowe each not gone down in a one-week span.
“If he had his druthers I’d think he’d like to redshirt, so I think he’s hoping that Shawn can stay healthy,” Edsall said. “I told him, ‘Hey, if something happens, you’ve got to be ready to go.’ [McMahon] said, ‘Coach, if that’s what happens, I’ll be ready.’ Just exemplifies his attitude towards being a team player and doing whatever he’ll have to do to make our team better.”
Both Petty and McMahon ran derivations of the option offense in high school, and both Edsall and offensive coordinator Mike Locksley spoke at length about tailoring an offense around their strengths, rather than forcing the newcomers to adapt to the existing scheme.
“Regardless of whether it’s Shawn, Brian or whoever the quarterback may be, we’ll always find out what they can execute,” Locksley said. “It’s not about what we know. We’ve been conscientious about tailoring the play calls to their skill set.
“As I said before, I’ve been very pleased with Shawn and Brian both. They understand football concepts. Today’s a big day for us, being able to get out and implement the game plans and third-down situations and red zone stuff, see how it looks, then come back in like we do on Wednesday nights, see what we can call.”
As the Terps move forward into a brutal November stretch, indoctrinating two new quarterbacks into the offense, one thing is for certain: They’ve been here before.
“This is only, what, the third or fourth time we’ve been through it this season?” Edsall said. “Our guys know how to handle it. We know that Shawn is the guy, so everybody has to rally around him. It’s not all on Shawn. Shawn’s just one part of this team, and I think that’s what happens with this team concept, that team mentality, those are the things that help you get through the obstacles that you have to overcome.”