Once a position of strength, Terps are suddenly thin at QB

Robinson, O'Brien have nagging injuries while Brown's out for the season

September 19, 2010|By Jeff Barker, The Baltimore Sun

COLLEGE PARK — — Entering the season, Maryland coaches were excited at the prospect of playing as many as three quarterbacks.

After three games, one of those passers (redshirt freshman C.J. Brown) is out for the season with a broken collarbone. Another (redshirt freshman Danny O'Brien) continues to be hampered by a sprained ankle and is uncertain for Saturday's game against Florida International. The third, starter Jamarr Robinson, is playing with a sore throwing shoulder.

The suddenly-thinned quarterback group has concerned coaches.

"We're in a bind right now," Friedgen said after Maryland (2-1) lost, 31-17, at West Virginia on Saturday.

The outlook was only slightly better Sunday, when Friedgen elaborated on the injuries during his weekly media conference call.

Robinson, the coach said, is healthy enough to continue playing, while O'Brien's ankle is the "same as it's been," leaving his status in doubt.

Of equal concern is the status of left tackle Justin Gilbert, who injured his knee against a 21st-ranked West Virginia team that sacked Robinson seven times and O'Brien once.

Gilbert had some swelling in the knee Sunday — although not as much as originally feared — and is due to have an MRI soon.

Robinson said after the game that he would hate to lose Gilbert, one of his best protectors. "That's my back side," the redshirt junior said.

Robinson hurt his shoulder late in the first half. "I took a couple hits," he said.

O'Brien was inserted on the half's final play and was sacked hard by Bruce Irvin (three sacks). The quarterback limped off the field favoring his right ankle. Robinson returned in the second half and threw touchdown passes of 60 and 80 yards to Torrey Smith.

Maryland frequently struggled to protect Robinson. Coaches attributed this to several factors:

Gilbert's absence. Maryland had to shuffle its line to cover for the absence of the redshirt sophomore. The Terps might move backup right guard Bennett Fulper to center and shift center Paul Pinegar to left tackle, Friedgen said.

Mistakes by the young line. "On some of our protections we weren't executing it right," Friedgen said. He said the line "overcompensated" for lapses against Irvin, leaving it vulnerable to sacks by other Mountaineers.

Robinson missed some "hots," meaning he didn't throw immediately to a designated receiver before being sacked, Friedgen said.

Overall, Friedgen said of Robinson: "I thought Jamarr had a gutsy performance, really hung in there while he was taking a beating."

But Friedgen said the team's performance was subpar.

"I don't know if I'm frustrated. I'm disappointed, I think our players are disappointed. I think we're a better football team than what we showed [Saturday]," the coach said.

Maryland has now lost nine road games in a row, excluding a 2008 Humanitarian Bowl victory.

The Terps have two home games upcoming, starting at noon Saturday against Florida International, which is winless after losing 19-14 to Rutgers and 27-20 to Texas A&M.

jeff.barker@baltsun.com

twitter.com/sunjeffbarker

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