Caleb Rowe Makes His Case

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- The Terps didn't bring any quarterbacks to their weekly media luncheon, a rarity, especially on the eve of their ballyhooed Big Ten home opener. Nor was Randy Edsall saying much about who this week's quarterback would be, and really no comments beyond how proud he was of backup Caleb Rowe, who came in for injured starter C.J. Brown at Indiana and helped Maryland to victory.

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- The Terps didn't bring any quarterbacks to their weekly media luncheon on Sept. 30, a rarity, especially on the eve of their ballyhooed Big Ten home opener against Ohio State. Nor was Randy Edsall saying much about who this week's quarterback would be, and really no comments on the position at all beyond how proud he was of backup Caleb Rowe, who came in for injured starter C.J. Brown at Indiana and helped Maryland secure its first Big Ten win.

But on the eve of their biggest test and marquee game of the season, and with Brown watching the second half in Bloomington, Ind., on the sidelines in a cast on his left wrist, Terrapin teammates were certainly talking about the junior Rowe, who seamlessly led Maryland to victory after Brown got dinged sometime in the first half at IU and never returned.

"I am proud of him for being ready and coming in and being productive when his number is called," Edsall said of Rowe. "And I think we have been blessed to have that happen at a number of positions this year with guys, and those are the expectations that we have. So again, very proud of Caleb for staying engaged and being ready and knowing that when his number was called he came in and did the job that he was expected to do."

The Terps players brought to the presser only echoed their head coach's sentiments, noting Rowe's calmness under pressure, his ability to bounce back from adversity and have a short memory, and most of all that whip of an arm he possesses.

Rowe, while not possessing the ability to maneuver in the zone read game like Brown, has the strongest arm and quickest delivery among the Terps quarterbacks, and is the most decisive passer when it comes to getting in the play and not over-thinking situations. His teammates see him as a starter just as much as they perceive Brown so, so said Terps senior linebacker Yannik Cudjoe-Virgil, among other Terps commenting on Maryland's possible starter versus Ohio State.

"Caleb, he's got an arm," said Terps offensive tackle Michael Dunn emphatically. "He's a really good quarterback, and he just trusts his technique, trusts what the coaches tell him, and just goes out and does what he has to do."

Teammates see him as a happy-go-lucky, chatterbox kind of guy with a perpetual smile on his face. Rowe is carefree, doesn't let much bother him, and while not as pure a student of the game as Brown is, or as much a film-room warrior, he seems to thrive when the lights come on. Added Dunn:

"The thing with Caleb is he is always happy. I don't think I have ever seen Caleb depressed," Dunn said. "He might get yelled at at practice, all this stuff, but right after practice he is joking around, making people feel better about themselves. And that's the type of kid Caleb is, he is not a 'me' guy, he's all about other people. And as an offensive lineman that is something you can really appreciate."

Rowe came on in the second half for the injured Brown and quickly went to work, completing 12-of-18 passes for 198 yards, two touchdowns and no picks. On his second series, after reading a blitz, he connected with running back Brandon Ross on a screen in stride on the left side, which Ross took 36 yards for a score. Then, looking like he was playing pitch-and-catch in the backyard with freshman receiver Juwann Winfree streaking open on a "go" route, he went over the top for a 30-yard score after getting the safety to freeze.

It was the former four-star receiver from New Jersey Winfree's first catch since burning his redshirt the week before at Syracuse, and it put Maryland ahead for good, 34-9, on the opening series of the fourth quarter. And it was the kind of deep shot, almost effortless at that, Terps fans have been looking for more of all season, what with all the talented pool of receivers at their disposal yet plays left on the field week after week.

For the season, appearing in three games as backup to Brown, Rowe is sporting a 183.57 quarterback efficiency ratio, with 21 completes in 32 attempts for 316 yards, four touchdowns, and one interception.

Against IU, with Maryland up 20-9 at intermission, Rowe came in for Brown and didn't miss a beat, standing poised and comfortable in the pocket, extending plays, and spreading the ball around with touch in both the short and intermediate game. He did much the same against West Virginia, making a cameo when Brown had his helmet knocked off and had to miss a play, quickly tossing a perfect scoring strike of 26 yards to Jacquille Veii over a defender in the end zone before heading back to the sideline.

Terps junior running back Ross was also talking Caleb Rowe on Sept. 30, and about how poised he is.

"Caleb is very confident. He is a great player. And I feel like he is a very easy-going, relaxed guy and it shows," Ross said. "So he's not going to take a whole lot of pressure like that. He's going to come in, keep his composure....he has had to come off the bench before in big games when someone's got hurt."

Ross said pressure never fazes him, and he can come off the bench cold and "not even warmed up that much" and throw touchdown passes. Ross said it's his character and personality.

"I felt bad for him [C.J.]," Ross said, "as you never want to see anybody get hurt. But we've got two very good quarterbacks and it's kinda like when you know you got two great quarterbacks, well you know there's not much of a drop-off."

What Ross remembers best was two seasons ago when Brown, Perry Hills and Devin Burns all got hurt, and Rowe promptly came in against N.C. State, got a hot hand and put Maryland in field position and with a chance to win the game "just by how he was taking us down the field," Ross said of his first game glimpse of Rowe.

"He came up with clutch throws, really composed, and just comes in and has fun with it," Ross said. "He's always ready to step in. We are not expecting any kind of drop-off because we have that much confidence in Caleb."

The Terps' defenders also see it, including senior nose tackle Darius Kilgo, who has been on his own roll of late.

"Caleb is an up guy, always smiling, always saying, 'What's up?'" Kilgo said. "He keeps calm no matter what the situation, and that's the kind of guy you want on your team."

Kilgo said the Terps have gotten to the point, as a team, where they have quality depth across the board, "and it's just a good feeling knowing you have a guy like him who can come in and make plays."

And none other than Cudjoe-Virgil, who used to room with Rowe but, ahem, wouldn't give up all his prankster ways, chimed in:

"Well, Caleb is a funny guy, it's never a dull moment when he's around, always some type of joke off the field. But on the field he is a different person," Cudjoe-Virgil said. "It's a pleasure to be around him."

Cudjoe-Virgil went on to heap more praise on his former roomie Rowe, who as a freshman tore his knee against Boston College, a season the Terps went through five quarterbacks including converted linebacker Shawn Petty. Cudjoe-Virgil said that while carefree, Rowe is also detail-oriented.

"Man, you know Caleb, he could be our starting quarterback just like C.J. could be our starting quarterback. He's not a backup quarterback," Cudjoe-Virgil said. "He's accepted his role that he understands that anytime he can come in and do the job. And I feel like every guy in the locker room believes that Caleb can do the job just as well as C.J., and C.J. can do the job just as well as Caleb."

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