COLLEGE PARK, Md - Maryland's game against Clemson might have ended in a disappointing fashion on Saturday, but there were a lot of good signs that came from that game as well. The defense played well when they weren't being asked to stay on the field for long stretches at a time, and the offense moved the ball pretty effectively against the No. 8 team in the country for long stretches. Neither side was able to do those things for much of the second half, but there were some good signs.
Perhaps the most important sign that came from that game was the play of C.J. Brown, the quarterback that was given the starting nod just moments before the game. He was somewhat of an unknown quantity coming into the game because we only really saw him in the second half against Georgia Tech, and even then we didn't see a lot that we could learn from.
But Brown was impressive in this game throughout, even if only in the ways we expected him to be. We knew that he was going to be very effective running the ball and that he might struggle with passing. That's what we got. He ran for 162 yards on 22 carries, but completed just 17 of his 35 passing attempts. He did have three passing touchdowns, but two of them came on screen passes to the tight end Matt Furstenburg, and one on a swing pass to Davin Meggett, so his receivers did most of the work on those. He didn't get a ton of help from his receivers, particularly Ronnie Tyler, who dropped a couple catchable balls.
Yes, there is room for improvement for Brown. But I don't think it's unfair to say that he exceeded pretty much everyone's wildest expectations with his performance. As a result, I don't think there is a quarterback controversy any longer in College Park.
Randy Edsall was very tight-lipped in his post game press conference, and when asked about the performance of Brown, he only said that he needed to watch tape before he could say anything about any individual player. That goes for everyone, not just Brown, but it's hard to imagine that he wasn't impressed at all with how Brown played. I think his decision to not to talk to reporters was more based on the way the game ended then the play of his quarterback.
As for Brown himself, he was satisfied with how he played, but he does see some room for improvement.
I was excited to go out and show what I could do, once I got past the nerves, I was proud of the way I read the ends and the throws I made," Brown said. "I thought I played well. But it's not about me.
You would never expect him to be happy about his performance in a game the team lost, at least publicly, but Brown did seem satisfied with what he was able to accomplish. As for the next game against Florida State, Edsall was unwilling to name a starter, as should be expected. Brown said he wasn't worrying about that.
I think the most impressive thing that was said was about his relationship with fellow quarterback Danny O'Brien, which one could expect to be pretty frosty considering their competition. But according to Brown, the to remain good friends and O'Brien helped him throughout the game.
We're both competitors, but we're friends," Brown said. "We came to Maryland together, and [O'Brien] has been there for me every step of the way. He's a brilliant mind, and he was there for me tonight, helping me every step of the way."
As for our Maryland blog Testudo Times, they saw enough to give Brown the starting job until further notice.
There were points last night, normally on a long run recently after a receiver had dropped a pass, where I couldn't help but feel that Brown was the biggest thing keeping Maryland in the game. Sure, he needs to get better throwing the ball, but remember that his receivers didn't give him any help today. We need to see what happens against a defense that's prepared for him, but until then, all aboard the CJB Express.
Brown was not perfect in this game, far from it. But he brings something to the game that no other player on the Maryland roster can. He also is a perfect fit for Gary Crowton's offense, and we saw how well it ran with him under center.
So until further notice, C.J. Brown is your Maryland starting quarterback.