Maryland's O'Brien tightens hold on quarterback job

Freshman guided Terps to first road win since 2008 against Boston College on Saturday

October 24, 2010|By Jeff Barker, The Baltimore Sun

CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. — — In the last two Maryland games — a loss, and a breakthrough road win — redshirt freshman Danny O'Brien has seemed to solidify his position as the Terps' No. 1 quarterback.

O'Brien set a career high for completions for the second week in a row Saturday as Maryland won its first road game in two years, 24-21, over Boston College. He was 27-for-40 for 182 yards and three touchdown passes.

O'Brien's performance came a week after he was 24-for-45 in a 31-7 loss at Clemson but threw three interceptions. O'Brien had no turnovers against Boston College — an achievement that further endeared him to his coaches.

"I think we've got a young quarterback who's talented, with vision, who is hungry and he's learning," offensive coordinator James Franklin said after the Boston College game.

O'Brien is poised, intense and serious. He studies game video as much as any player and is a harsh critic of his own performances.

"He's going to get better every single week," Franklin said.

As recently as several weeks ago, there was media speculation over whether O'Brien or redshirt junior Jamarr Robinson was the starter.

That conversation now seems largely moot.

Robinson, who had battled a shoulder injury earlier in the season, remains popular with teammates and is still used in games. Coaches have been inserting Robinson into games for a handful of plays. His plays on Saturday included a 5-yard run for a first down in the first half. Three plays later, the Terps scored to take a 21-7 lead.

But O'Brien now seems clearly ensconced as the starter.

"I think since Danny's been playing, he does a good job of taking what the defense gives and spreading the ball around," Franklin said.

O'Brien and the other Terps had to overcome the shock of hearing that starting right tackle Pete DeSouza had been hospitalized in intensive care with multiple leg fractures following a serious motor-scooter collision Thursday night.

"Obviously that was on everyone's minds and was kind of a discussion point ever since it happened," Franklin said. "But we had a job to do. I think our kids were focused. They were motivated to do well."

Coach Ralph Friedgen said he heard about DeSouza's accident when a neighbor woke him Thursday night with the news. Friedgen said Sunday that the player was heavily sedated and in pain but was expected to recover.

Maryland hadn't won on the road since September 2008 against Clemson.

Saturday's win did not come easily. Boston College scored 14 straight points to pull to 24-21 midway through the fourth quarter.

The Terps had to stop the Eagles twice on fourth down in the game's final minutes.

"This was enormous," said defensive coordinator Don Brown. "When you look up in the fourth quarter and you've to stop them twice on fourth down to get a 'W,' it's just a great testament to our guys.

"I think [in] all the tough games we've been in, we don't flinch. We don't have any cowboys on our defense. We have 11 guys that trust one another and just do their job."

Notes: With his second-quarter hit on Boston College running back Montel Harris, safety Kenny Tate has now forced four fumbles this season. That's the most by a Terp since Milton Harris in 2005. … Fellow safety Antwine Perez had two interceptions and a fumble recovery. The Terps have been credited with 52 points off turnovers this season, compared to seven for opponents.

jeff.barker@baltsun.com

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