Maryland is going bowling for the first time under third-year coach Randy Edsall. The Terrapins have C.J. Brown to thank in large part for that, as he ran for the game-winning touchdown in a 27-24 overtime upset win at Virginia Tech on Nov. 16.
The redshirt senior quarterback has suffered his share of injuries on a team that has been depleted by them the last two seasons, but in eight games this season he has completed better than 59 percent of his passes for 1,608 yards with eight touchdowns and six interceptions, and has added another 378 yards and eight scores rushing.
ESPN.com caught up with Brown this week to talk about the home stretch for the Terrapins, who host Boston College on Saturday.
Can you take me through that game-winning touchdown dive and the wait afterward while they reviewed it, and the celebration of getting to a bowl game and pulling out that win?
C.J. Brown: We were down on, I want to say, the 3-yard-line. They just stopped us. We got a cover-zero look on the play was supposed to go to the tight end, a little tight end pop pass. When I turned around after the play-action fake I saw he was covered, he kind of got tackled. Watched down the running back, who I knew wasn't going to be there. Continued to stay on the move on the rollout. Saw the edge, saw the pylon — the guard was able to get out, kind of handle one of the linebackers — and took a dive for the end zone and swiped the pylon.
Have you ever seen your coach, Randy Edsall, as jubilant and as excited as he was the minute that game was announced as over and he was celebrating?
CB: Not at all, not at all. That was definitely a moment that I'll remember for the rest of my life. It was exciting to see your coach excited like that. It's always funny to see him run on the field that fast because you never see your coach run.
What's it mean to become bowl-eligible in the third year under Randy Edsall?
CB: To get six wins and to be eligible for that, it's huge. We haven't had a bowl game in a while, and for everyone, that's been the goal: Get to a bowl game, get to a bowl game. To be able to solidify a sixth win in that fashion is huge for us. We're excited and have two games left to better our situation.
CB: Yeah, it's been tough. Injuries are part of the game. We understand that. Like coach always says, the next-man-up mentality. If something ever happens, the next guy to get up has to do just as good or better, and I think that's what guys are doing. They're taking it upon themselves to not let the team down, and I think that you see that on the field. But injuries are part of the game and they're going to happen, so we've just got to roll with it.
And for you, would it be fair to say this is probably as healthy as you've been in at least the last month and probably for most of the season outside of the first game or two?
CB: Yeah, definitely. I think that definitely shows on the field. Just to be able to be out there and be healthy again, it feels really good. And just to go out there and give ourselves a chance to win, I think it's definitely a better situation, especially on offense.
This Boston College team you're about to face has undergone a massive turnaround from last season. Just looking at them from your position, what do you think is the biggest difference from last year to this year?
CB: I think their whole coaching staff. I think that's the biggest thing, is the whole mentality. They're explosive when running the ball on offense. They just pound it. On defense, coach [Don] Brown, who was here and I know personally, implementing that defense and giving everyone hard looks and bringing all these blitzes and pressures. Just the mentality, I think, has changed there.
All the implications aside in terms of six wins, bowl-eligibility and what not, what did it mean to win in a place like Blacksburg, Va., especially given the last month you guys have had? How do you think this can be a catalyst for a nice finish to the season?
CB: It's huge, especially because no one on the team's ever been to Blacksburg. No one had been to Lane Stadium. You hear all the time about the hostile environment, the history of the team, and to go in there and how loud it is. And for us to go in there as underdogs and come out with the victory like that, it was huge.
I know it's different from a player perspective. I know media, coaches and administrators like to think about it a lot more, but this being your last year in the ACC, is there anything special about playing in the league this last year or is it one of those things you haven't really thought about?
CB: Nah, I haven't really thought about it. We get asked questions about it a lot. The ACC was here long before us and I think that we want to go out on top, obviously, and we want to show our Maryland pride. And I think that's the biggest thing, is just making sure we're leaving everything on the field and having no regrets.