Linebacker to Play Quarterback for Terps

With injuries to all four quarterbacks this season, LB Shawn Petty finds himself under center.

C.J. Brown. Perry Hills. Devin Burns. And now Caleb Rowe.

All four quarterbacks are out for the rest of the season. Brown, Hills and Rowe all suffered torn ACLs and Burns is out with lisfranc, a severe foot injury. Next up is Shawn Petty, a linebacker from Eleanor Roosevelt High School just a few miles from College Park, Md. Petty played quarterback in high school, but he is in no way as pure of a passer as Hills or Rowe was. Regardless, Maryland head coach Randy Edsall has confidence in Petty under center.

“Last week, when we knew were moving him to quarterback, we developed a plan for him to be able to go in and play if he needed to and to get him comfortable with some things,” Edsall said. “This week, what we've been able to do is take a look at some more things, we'll practice those and then take a look and see if he can absorb, digest and execute during practice. It's going to be a combination of what he can do, but we've also got other guys on the team that realize their skill sets as well. It's that balance we've got to find in terms of what's the best way to move the ball and score points utilizing Shawn, utilizing the other parts of our offense.”

Edsall said Rowe was hurt on the second-to-last play against Boston College, a 20-17 loss in Chestnut Hill, Mass. Rowe was knocked out of bounds while scrambling to the sidelines and was slow to get up. Rowe ended up getting back up and finishing the game, but it was on Sunday when the team doctors realized that Rowe suffered a torn ACL and would be unable to play for the rest of the season.

“You just feel bad for Caleb because he was playing well and getting better,” Edsall said. “He's got talent, and now he's got a little bit of a setback. He'll be OK; he'll work hard on his rehab and be back stronger. Now Shawn gets his opportunity, and we're all behind Shawn. We're going to go with Shawn, and he's the best guy we've got to lead the team. I think he'll do a good job.”

The silver lining in the situation is that last year around this time, Petty was playing quarterback for his high school team so he isn't too far removed from the position. Edsall said the biggest challenge for Petty was learning the playbook, especially after spending all of training camp and the majority of the season on the defensive side of the ball. Petty's personality is helping him digest all the schemes and responsibilities thrown at him, Edsall said.

“He is very laid back,” Edsall said. “He is very similar to Devin [Burns] in terms of his personality. He never gets very high or low. He is a steady ship out there. He goes about his business. He is determined and focused. He is an athlete. He wants to do well. His personality with the situation we are going into is probably pretty good. He doesn't get real excited or down in the dumps. He is just looking for the opportunity and looking forward to take advantage of it.”

Operating around a new quarterback is nothing new for the Terps this year and in the recent past. The last quarterback to stay healthy enough to start every game in a single season was Sam Hollenbach back in 2006. The Terps have already lost four of their quarterbacks this season.

“This is only the third or fourth time that they have gone through it,” Edsall said. “Our guys know how to handle it. They understand what the issues are. They have gone through C.J.[Brown], Perry [Hills], Devin [Burns] and now Caleb [Rowe]. We know that Shawn [Petty] is our guy so everyone has to rally around him. They are going to do that. In their minds he is a guy who can do the things necessary to help us win the game. It's not all on Shawn, he is just one part of this team. That's what happens when you have the team concept and mentality. It helps you get through obstacles that you have to overcome like this.”

Shawn Petty will remain No. 31. His backup, Brian McMahon, a converted tight end, will also keep his number, 87.

Edsall has not decided on who to bring in as the emergency quarterback yet.

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