Maryland has the worst QB rating (26.1) of any Power Five conference team in the Football Bowl Subdivision, according to ESPN.com, a stunning statistic given the experience of upperclassmen Perry Hills, Caleb Rowe and Daxx Garman.
“Obviously, very frustrating. This falls on my shoulders in terms of preparing the offense to go out and execute,” Locksley said. “My job as a coach is to continue to find a way to coach a guy that’s going to go out there to execute the things that we put in the game plan.”
The carousel began in late August: Hills was pulled after starting the first two games of the season largely because of his inability to throw downfield. He was replaced by Rowe, who has 12 interceptions in just four games. Rowe was benched in the second half of the past two games for Garman, who threw for more than 2,000 yards at Oklahoma State last season. But the graduate transfer has struggled with his command of Maryland’s offense, as evidenced by being penalized for delay of game on his first play against Michigan. Garman has been sacked five times on 23 dropbacks.
The top priority this week, Locksley said, is determining which quarterback can best protect the ball. That could bode well for Hills, who has been the most consistent player at the position through the first five weeks. In two games, he completed 52.7 percent of his passes and threw for four touchdowns against just two interceptions. He’s also proven to be the most capable scrambler among the trio, rushing for 119 yards on 11 carries.
While Rowe has the arm strength to diversify Maryland’s passing game, he has four multi-interception games and has completed just 18 of his last 54 passes. Garman is completing just 33.3 percent of his passes in three quarters played.
The inconsistency has been accentuated by the absence of balance, and Locksley called the running game “hit or miss” through the first five games of the season. Maryland attempted 36 passes against 26 runs against Michigan, where it was forced into countless third-and-long situations throughout the day. The end results were ugly: 10 three-and-outs on 15 drives, and a 1-of-18 third-down conversion rate.
“It all starts with quarterback play. I have to do a good job of giving those a plan that they could execute. We still have a few practices left, a walk-through to make some decisions on the position,” Locksley said. “There was no landslide winner with the position, they’re all pretty close. There will be a premium put on protecting the football which we haven’t done at the quarterback position.”