Maryland head coach Randy Edsall rarely ever tips his hand about personnel or depth moves or player performance, let alone the inner-workings of staff meetings.
But late Nov. 15, after the 34-17 loss to Michigan State at Byrd Stadium, you could feel the frustration in his voice and see it in his manner over the continued woes at quarterback, and sea of offensive turnovers, which carried over to Nov. 16 during Edsall's teleconference with beat reporters.
Marking something of, at least in the Edsall World, a significant departure, the head coach said Nov. 16 that if things do not improve with sixth-year post-grad starter C.J. Brown, that after meeting with his staff this morning he may look to backups Perry Hills or Shane Cockerille as the Terps embark on their final two regular season games, and try to position themselves deeper for the post-season.
This is usually taboo talk for Edsall, and for weeks, through the many ups and downs and picks and plays left on the field by the star-crossed Brown, Edsall has emphatically stuck by his starter. At least until today.
Brown threw three picks against Michigan State, including a galling pick-six into double coverage, and in part wasted one of the best efforts by the Terps defense this season when offense could barely muster up in the 37-15 loss to the No. 12 Spartans.
Brown, who finished a rough night 20-43 for 246 yards, 3 picks and 2 touchdowns, was also sacked three times and rushed the ball six times for minus-5 yards. The Maryland offense had but 252 yards total, including six yards rushing, while turning the ball over three times. Brown started out brutally, his first pass nearly picked, and two plays later one picked, all on the first series, but neither of the backups ever warmed up on the night.
Brown had some wild swings in the game, overcoming the awful start and at times looking poised and comfortable chucking the ball around (see his two decisive touchdown strikes to Daniel Adams and Juwann Winfree), but for the most part still didn't look comfortable in the pocket or accurate with his reads of throws. A few other balls could have been picked, as he threw into crowds and made dangerous throws on the edge.
So that led to Edsall's more-than-candid remarks Nov. 16:
"That's something that we talked about this morning, and that's something that yeah, if we can't be productive, then we have to take a look at those guys," Edsall said of the backup quarterbacks. "I don't want to do that if don't have to, but if that dictates that we do that then I'll do what's in the best interests to help us get a win."
The sophomore Hills, who redshirted last season after knee surgery, is a yeoman backup without the same physical measureables, while Cockerille, a running quarterback in high school, has yet to play quarterback at Maryland.
Overall, Edsall said in looking at the MSU game film he thought the Terps competed hard but just didn't take advantage of the opportunities that were presented "to get us over the hump in that game."
He said the offensive woes are not just on Brown, still spread around the unit, including six receiver drops. The Terps never could get the run game going despite shaking up the starting lineup with Wes Brown getting his first start. He said the Terps played hard on defense, and only had some gap integrity issues in the fourth quarter.
Edsall said they watched the film, and it's time to move on to Michigan and the players know they need to make those plays to beat teams like MSU. He said sometimes it's the offensive line, the receivers, the tight ends, the running backs, the quarterback, etc., and "we have to continue to work to be more consistent and we have to keep coaching them to be more consistent," Edsall said. "It's a collective effort that is not allowing us to execute and operate at the highest level that we can."
Edsall said the team came out of the MSU game with "some bumps and bruises," but does not believe they lost any players for the Michigan game due to injury. He said junior receiver and top playmaker Stefon Diggs will be evaluated this week if he can practice and play. By Tuesday he will know Diggs' health/availability from team medical staff, he said.
"We'll see how things go this week and go from there," Edsall said. "He's eligible to play this week and we'll see where we are. Again, you can't... Stefon is a good player and he is somebody who has a tremendous passion for the game. But again, he's a guy who has the ability to make plays. Would he have been able to make some plays in that game? You would think so. But as I said, other people had to step up and do some things, and there were some guys who did step up and there were some guys that didn't have their best games yesterday. And we needed to have people's best games in order to beat that team, not come close, but to beat that team."
Edsall praised the defense for not allowing a first quarter offensive touchdown to MSU, something he said only Oregon has done this season.
Edsall also said punter Nate Renfro has to get more consistent as well, and despite some low snaps yesterday he has to do his job regardless. Renfro had 8 boots for a 35.5 yard net average, hitting some knuckleballs and low drives after enjoying a bit of a bounce back in his last two games.
Edsall also said the Terps couldn't get the run game going, and without that balance, it's hard to get play action or anything else started.
"We didn't get it done up front yesterday, and that's something well continue to work at," Edsall said.
Edsall also got a bit philosophical in looking at things, overall, and the team becoming more consistent this late in the season, something that sticks in his craw no doubt:
"That's the challenge of coaching, and that's what I talked to the team about today," Edsall said. "That we want to be consistent, and it all starts before you even get to the practice field, your preparation in terms of how do you prepare yourself. How do you prepare yourself in the weight room to get stronger, how do you handle yourself in the dining room in terms of nutrition and putting on the weight that you need to. How do you prepare yourself to go in the meetings and study film and be prepared when you go on the practice field. And then doing it on the practice field in terms of carrying it over to the games. And those are the things that are frustrating."
He added the Terps had many good plays in the game, while you have to give credit to MSU as well.
"Again, you show the guys what they did right, what they did wrong, and go back out on Tuesday and work to get better at it," Edsall said. "But you see things that happened and you say, that's really good. And you see some things and you say 'wow.' And we right now have too many inconsistencies offensively to be the productive offense that we want to be."
Edsall Steps Out of Box About QB Situation
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