COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- It's a good thing C.J. Brown did an internship for Under Armour this summer focusing on supply chain. Because right now he's trying to link up a lot more in the long game.
Brown, the Terps' sixth-year quarterback, opened camp Aug. 4 brimming with confidence, good health and a very healthy receiver stable, while focusing on a few final technical areas as he takes the next step as a more complete quarterback. The graduate-student starter has talked about improved footwork, mechanics, and overall knowledge of the system in the past, and now just has a few more point-up areas of focus he hit on Aug. 4. He's been asked just about every imaginable question in the last few weeks, headlined by last week's appearance at Big Ten Media Day in Chicago, where he was one of three Terps player representatives.
"I think the biggest thing right now is just working on the deep ball," Brown said. "With all these explosive threats that we have, and the new guys like Taivon [Jacobs], and Amba [Etta-Tawo] stepping up.The depth we have coming back, Marcus [Leak] coming back....to be able to put the ball out there and letting them make plays. And knowing that I can take a little bit off my plate in terms of running, taking care of my body, staying healthy, by just distributing the ball to these guys."
Brown said he dug in more this summer in the film room, watching both quarterbacks and receivers, while talking more with Mike Locksley, his offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. And a ton of time logged in voluntary summer workouts and seven-on-sevens with his crew of receivers led by All-American Stefon Diggs and Deon Long, both back healthy and chomping at the bit to make a splash in Maryland's first season in the Big Ten. Brown broke down the next step, his long game.
"It's knowing how to put the right trajectory on the ball, just the footwork, where my hips need to be aligned," Brown said. "And the placement of where it's going to be in the game by watching film and understanding yardage and depth and the speed of the guys around me."
Brown, in years past, often didn't have the time behind a patchwork O-line, or with all the receiver injuries a year ago, to be as consistent in the long game with the same guys each week. It was a revolving door of trying to get to know his ever-changing receivers' releases, speed and timing, one the offense could rarely get consistent with.
"Just the consistency, protection-wise, we didn't throw too many...we had to throw a lot of things early," Brown said. "So just to be able to get back there and understand where guys are going to be, especially with injuries last year and you didn't know who was going to be outside, adjusting to their speed, releases. I think that's the biggest thing, that confidence, and just understanding and trusting right now."
Brown emphasized that the deep ball will be big for the Terps this fall, given the coverages they will see with double-teams on the likes of Diggs and Co. He said this summer's field work with his receivers has turned into "muscle memory for me."
On Day One Aug. 4, everyone got in the act with Diggs, Long, Jacobs and Leak pulling in some deep balls. Brown also was impressed with freshman four-star receiver Juwann Winfree. Brown looked in good in the intermediate and long game with better touch than often seen in the past. He was limited in the spring when the Terps didn't go “live” with their quarterbacks, and he didn't always get a true look and feel.
On the rookie Winfree, he said:
"I think how fast he's learning the offense. And the footwork, understanding the game and concepts, getting lined up and not asking a lot of questions a lot of true freshmen ask," Brown said. "I think he has a pretty good grasp just coming in."
Brown said both Diggs and Long "were extremely fired up" coming back to the field yesterday after broken legs suffered last season at Wake Forest, "and I am sure they had a little bit of nerves coming out here. And once the pads are on they will be even more fired up." Long had some early drops and later settled in.
Several receivers stood out, while tight ends Andrew Isaacs and Derrick Hayward had their moments stretching the field. At running back, Wes Brown and Brandon Ross looked sharp and quick out of their cuts, among others out of the backfield. It all makes for a promising mix of playmakers come the season opener Aug. 30.
"Definitely the speed with the play-makers, the releases they had, and just getting the ball up in the air and letting them run underneath and get it. That's always good to see especially on Day One," Brown said of opening day.
Brown said Leak has added to the depth, "and he's coming back bigger and stronger than ever. And he showed that today running and making catches."
And Brown's face lit up when asked of the fastest straight-line speed guy among his touted receiver corps:
"Oh, absolutely Taivon Jacobs. He flies," Brown said of the redshirt freshman who starred on scout team last year. "I almost cut my drops short just to get it out there because he floats out there."
Brown said that, overall, the comfort level is so much better for him and the entire offense now after three years together for many of them.
"Not only for me, but for a lot of guys. Going into a third camp with this system we're not rebuilding, we're just adding the foundation," Brown said. "We know Coach Edsall understands that, Coach expects that, Coach Locksley expects that. And we're just taking it day by day and continue to build that foundation and not laying the brick from the ground zero."
Brown said his father, Clark, who played quarterback at Michigan State, hasn't given him too much of a pep talk about the new league, beyond what to expect from loud and boisterous Big Ten fans and the many special venues along the way.
Randy Edsall boasted of Brown's improved command, confidence and leadership skills when asked of his areas of improvement coming into this season. And about the only odd thing on Day One for Brown and Co. was when a new reporter asked Edsall about the battle for the No. 1 quarterback spot, which after a pregnant pause the head coach said there is none.
Brown Goes Long On Day One Of Camp
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