Earlier this morning, Maryland quarterback C.J. Brown and coach Randy Edsall sat together and watched Tuesday’s practice film of a devastating play that is likely to alter the course of the Terps’ entire season.
The offense was running a two-minute drill when Brown broke through the pocket. He was running downfield and went to make a cut – “a cut he’s made 1,000 times,” Edsall said -- only this time was different. Brown tore his right ACL, an injury that will sideline him for the rest of the season and put the Terps’ offense in the hands of a little-known true freshman named Perry Hills.
“To see the work that he’s put in for this season go away with one cut in a non-contact drill, a cut he’s made 1,000 times is just devastating,” Edsall said.
Brown was the most indispensable player on Maryland’s roster. There is no quarterback with any game experience behind him. Following the transfer of former starter Danny O'Brien to Wisconsin, the position is so thin at Maryland that receiver Devin Burns volunteered to change positions and practice as the No. 3 quarterback behind Hills and Caleb Rowe. This injury and how the team responds to it will define Maryland’s season.
Following an abysmal 2-10 record in Edsall’s first season, the Terps had built a little momentum with a respectable recruiting class and the hire of two new coordinators. Edsall took a more media-friendly approach, and a favorable nonconference schedule helped sprinkle a little optimism in College Park. Edsall said that while the team is heartbroken for Brown, his injury won’t dampen their spirits.
“It’s disappointing for C.J.,” he said, “but the excitement that we have and the kinds of practices we’ve been having the last few days, the things that are taking place, that hasn’t dampened anything. We’re disappointed and upset that this injury occurred to C.J., but the expectations, enthusiasm and excitement we have for this season hasn't been taken away from us.”
Maryland certainly can’t afford to lose much more of anything, whether it’s games, players to injury, transfers, momentum or energy.
The offense will now be run by Hills, a recent graduate of Central Catholic High School in Pittsburgh, Pa. Last year, he threw for 2,000 yards, 13 touchdowns and two interceptions.
Maryland can only hope he fares as well as its starter. At this point, staying on his feet would be a victory.
Edsall said the true freshmen quarterbacks have been running same plays as Brown through the first 11 practices, and that he doesn’t plan on altering or scaling down the playbook for them.
“From the style of offense we’re running, C.J., Perry and Caleb all fit into what we were looking for,” Edsall said. “That transition isn’t one I’m real concerned about.”
We'll find out soon if maybe he should be.