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Yet again, who will start under center for the Terps will be a game-time decision.
A week removed from Maryland's third consecutive loss, a 41-16 defeat at the hands of Florida State, the quarterback competition is once again open for bids, head coach Randy Edsall announced Tuesday.
The decision comes after starter C.J. Brown was knocked out of the game early in the third quarter. Brown was able to pass for 92 yards but only led Maryland to three first-half points. In his place, Danny O'Brien piloted two touchdown drives.
With Brown, touted more for his running ability, and O'Brien, the more accomplished passer, Edsall said he hasn't ruled out the possibility of a platoon system against Virginia.
"We might play both on Saturday. I don't know. We'll see how the week goes. We could play one or both," Edsall said. "If there's somebody who's a little bit better in one area, we'll do that. It's just like in defense on third down when you go to nickel. That's something that we look at all the time.
Neither Brown nor O'Brien said they have ever been involved in a dual-quarterback system, though O'Brien did share time with Jamaar Robinson early last year.
How alternating would work was left up to speculation. The quarterbacks could alternate series or spell one another depending on the game situation.
"I don't know how it will be, but if it happens I will be ready for it and I'll be ready when he tells me to put my helmet on," O'Brien said. "I haven't been a part of anything like it, but if it happens I'm going to roll with it and do the best that I can with it."
This is the second time Edsall will name the starter at game time. He told Brown he would get nod during pregame warm-ups prior to the Clemson game. Brown responded by throwing for 177 yards and three touchdowns, as well as 162 rushing yards, in the team's highest offensive output this year, albeit in a 56-45 loss.
O'Brien began the season as the Terps' starter, a season removed from winning ACC Rookie of the Year honors. And after beginning the season with a 348-yard effort in a win over Miami, O'Brien threw for three touchdowns compared to five interceptions before being benched against Georgia Tech.
In the second half of last week's game, O'Brien produced his highest passer rating of the season: 152.3. To warrant a start this week, O'Brien said he needs to continue to build off that performance.
"It's all about production," O'Brien said. You got to produce on the field. You got to have a really good week of practice to give yourself the best opportunity to play great on Saturdays, and I have a lot of confidence in myself to make plays."
While it appears O'Brien has the momentum, Brown said he is 100 percent healthy after the Florida State game. The two quarterbacks are splitting repetitions with the first team at practice 50-50.
Brown said he'll practice this week as if he will be the starter, the same mindset he's had for the first seven weeks. He didn't know he'd start against Clemson, he said, and he could not have predicted he'd take over against the Yellow Jackets. He also could not foresee O'Brien playing in the second half.
Now the Virginia defense will have to prepare for both Brown and O'Brien – the element of surprise.
"There are positives either way," O'Brien said of his coach's decision to name the starter so late in the week. "Keeping the other team guessing because we both bring different things might be a positive. That's something that's up to coach and that's his decision, and all we can do us is make the most of the reps we get in practice and compete."