Terps say their new quarterback 'can do it'

His speed makes Robinson, in for injured Turner, a dual threat

November 10, 2009|By Jeff Barker | jeff.barker@baltsun.com

COLLEGE PARK — — Jamarr Robinson didn't see Maryland quarterback Chris Turner go down.

Turner, who had just suffered a knee-ligament injury, was lying on his back on the Carter-Finley Stadium field with his hands over his face in the second quarter of Maryland's 38-31 loss to North Carolina State.

Robinson, Turner's backup, had little time to process that he was about to play in the game or to contemplate what his entry meant to Maryland or to his career.

"It jumped on me quick," Robinson said.

Just like that, the struggling Terrapins (2-7, 1-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) had a new quarterback - along with questions about Turner's health and Robinson's ability to manage the offense if he starts the final three games.

With a bowl game no longer possible, the Terps - who have lost four games in a row - are now playing "for pride," coach Ralph Friedgen said. "I think if we can win these games, we can build some momentum for next year," he said.

Turner injured his medial collateral ligament and is questionable for Maryland's game Saturday against Virginia Tech (6-3, 3-2 ACC), Friedgen said.

"There's a chance [he could play], but we'll have to see," Friedgen said of Turner, a fifth-year senior who had hoped to end his career with a flourish. "I'm sure we'll evaluate him every day."

Robinson, known on the team as "Jam Rob," is popular with teammates. Although he had never thrown a pass in a game until Saturday, Robinson has practiced with the team since 2007.

"He can do it," wide receiver Torrey Smith said of Robinson, a redshirt sophomore from Charlotte, N.C. "It's going to be fun to see what he can do these next few weeks. He adds a different dimension to the offense as far as him being able to run. People have to respect him being a dual threat out there, which should definitely help us out, especially with our offensive-line situation."

Robinson, who didn't throw a pass during his first series, said he grew increasingly comfortable as the game progressed.

"Everybody was patting me on the butt saying, 'Let's go, Jam Rob ... we believe in you, you can do it.' It was just a matter of getting in and doing what I do in practice all the time," Robinson said.

"Of course, I didn't expect to have to finish the game up by myself, but it was just something I had to take in stride. As I was in there more often, with coverage and stuff like that, it got slow - it slowed down for me."

Players inevitably have mixed feelings when a quarterback is hurt. They feel for their injured teammate but are excited by another's opportunity.

"I've got the utmost confidence in Jamarr," receiver Adrian Cannon said. "I've seen what he can do every day. I've been saying that for the past 2 1/2 years. So that wasn't the question. But at the same time, I hope Turner is all right."

Maryland coaches had intended to find Robinson playing time the last several games. Offensive coordinator James Franklin said two weeks ago that he was eager to test Robinson but conceded that Turner - who has started for much of the past three seasons - was still well ahead of his understudy.

"There's still a pretty big gap," Franklin said. But Franklin also said Robinson was the fastest among quarterbacks Turner, Danny O'Brien and C.J. Brown. He said Robinson runs the 40-yard dash in about 4.5 seconds.

Robinson completed five of 11 passes for 27 yards against N.C. State and ran nine times for 54 yards, excluding yardage lost in sacks.

Robinson overthrew an open LaQuan Williams in the end zone with the Terps trailing 31-28. Friedgen said the quarterback should have gotten rid of the ball instead of taking a sack with Maryland trailing 38-31 in the final minute.

"I thought he competed very well," Friedgen said. " I thought he made a few mistakes. Some of the things he really did were with his feet. I think he got better the longer he was in there."

Note: Maryland will wear special uniforms featuring black and desert camouflage for its game Saturday against Virginia Tech. The tribute was announced last month by officials from Maryland, Baltimore-based Under Armour and the Wounded Warrior Project, which provides services for injured service members and their families.

Jamarr Robinson
Born: Oct. 21, 1987

Height: 6 feet Weight: 190 pounds

Hometown: Charlotte, N.C.

School: Myers Park

Last game: The redshirt freshman, receiving the first significant action of his career against North Carolina State, completed five of 11 for 27 yards. He rushed nine times for 54 yards (he lost 16 yards on sacks).

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