Tough week for Randy Edsall and the Terps

Second season-ending QB injury 'isn't new territory' for second-year Maryland coach

October 24, 2012|Kevin Cowherd

COLLEGE PARK — — Randy Edsall is having the kind of week that makes football coaches chug Maalox at two in the morning.

Maybe you heard: Maryland is having issues as it gets ready to play Boston College on Saturday.

The main issue is that the Terps' quarterbacks keep getting carted off the field and returning to the sidelines on crutches.

Freshman Perry Hills is the latest to go down. He tore his anterior cruciate ligament in last week's heart-breaking 20-18 loss to North Carolina State and is done for the season. This came only a couple of months after C.J. Brown, the previous starter, tore his ACL in a non-contact drill and was also lost for the year.

You talk about being snake-bitten. Losing your top two quarterbacks to the same injury in the same season pretty much qualifies for the label.

Now the Terps have to choose between true freshman Caleb Rowe or sophomore Devin Burns to start at quarterback against BC. Both played well against N.C. State when Hills went down, but both have almost zero experience.

And since Edsall needs a third-string quarterback in case something happens to Rowe and Burns — I know, don't even think it — he'd be forced to use either a freshman linebacker (Shawn Petty) or a freshman tight end (Brian McMahon).

Hoo, boy. That Maalox — it better be the maximum-strength stuff.

"I've been through this before," Edsall said the other day, sounding remarkably upbeat. "I had a [defensive back] that we had to get ready to play quarterback, in Darius Butler, when I was with Connecticut. So this isn't new territory for me."

As if that's not enough, Edsall also has to make sure freshman kicker Brad Craddock isn't a basket case this week.

The kid from Adelaide, Australia watched in horror as his potential game-winning 33-yard field goal in the closing seconds against State bounced off the left upright.

Then he slumped to the ground and lay on his back for several seconds, holding his helmet in disbelief and looking like he needed an extended session with Dr. Phil, pronto.

Instead, he got a session with Dr. Randy the next day.

"Brad was good," Edsall said. "We went out and did a little work on Sunday. We always do PAT's/field goals on Sunday. ... [We] put him right smack on the 15-yard line for a 33-yarder in the middle of the field, he drains it right down the middle.

"We as coaches have to do a better job of getting him to have the same leg swing all the time. We just gotta keep working with his technique and the fundamentals. 'Cause he's got the leg, he's got the right attitude. He's got all that."

The shame of it is that Maryland was having a pretty good year before Hills went down and Craddock took a whack to his psyche with that missed kick.

Raise your hand if you thought Maryland would be 4-3 and 2-1 in the ACC at this point, just two wins from being bowl-eligible.

Uh-uh, no one saw that coming. That ranks as a shocker right up there with the Orioles winning 93 games and going to the playoffs.

Oh, the Terps can still have themselves a fine season. Their schedule isn't a killer. At 1-6 and 0-4 in the conference, ACC weak-sister Boston College is eminently beatable. So is Georgia Tech (3-4, 2-3), which visits Byrd Stadium next week.

Beating No. 14 Clemson and No. 11 Florida State will be tough. But even North Carolina, reeling from NCAA sanctions involving recruiting violations and payments from player agents, could be another W for the Terps in their final regular-season game.

Still, winning sure gets harder when your quarterbacks are dropping like flies and your kicker might be spooked from a big miss.

No wonder there's been an outbreak of dark humor among the Terps as the week rolls on.

"I told Coach Edsall on Sunday, 'You know, I played quarterback in sixth grade,'" 305-pound senior defensive end A.J. Francis said with a smile. "And he looked at me and said, 'I figure you got a pretty good arm. But I don't know if you'd be able to run the zone read. So because of that, I'm going to have to put you 18th string.'

"So I'm on the depth chart," Francis continued. "If we had 18 deep, I'm on the depth chart."

To his credit, Edsall seems undaunted. Whether this is the coaching version of whistling past the graveyard, we don't know. But there's no question he's done a good job with these Terps after that 2-10 debacle last season, his first in College Park.

"I'm not panicked, I'm not upset, I'm not frustrated," Edsall said. "You roll with the punches. You go out and get yourself ready to get a win."

And you keep the Maalox handy.

Listen to Kevin Cowherd Tuesdays at 7:20 a.m. on 105.7 The Fan's "The Norris and Davis Show."

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