COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) — On the same day that Danny O’Brien climbed into 15th place on Maryland’s career list for passing yardage, he also threw three interceptions in a loss to West Virginia.
Such is life for a sophomore quarterback.
After only 12 starts, O’Brien has established himself as one of the most prolific passers in school history. Yet he still has a lot to learn, as evidenced by his spotty performance last Saturday against the Mountaineers.
O’Brien’s first interception set up a West Virginia touchdown, and his last one short-circuited Maryland’s final drive after the Terrapins cut a 24-point deficit to 37-31.
“If you want a quick way to find out who your friends are, throw three picks in a game,” O’Brien said Tuesday. “A lot less people in your corner after that.”
After the game, O’Brien went to dinner with his family. Then he dropped by the team complex and watched film of the debacle — three times.
“I kind of knew beforehand what the mistakes were,” he said. “That kind of reaffirmed it.”
Maryland coach Randy Edsall attributed the interceptions to a combination of youth and mettle.
“The great ones see everything and just take what the defense will give them,” Edsall said. “Danny is a victim of his own circumstance sometime. He has so much confidence in his own ability that there’s going to be times where he might try to throw the ball into a very small window when maybe he shouldn’t. I told him, ‘Sometimes an incomplete pass is the best thing can happen.’ Those are the things that don’t happen overnight with a quarterback.”
Edsall expects a better performance this Saturday when Maryland (1-1) hosts Temple (2-1).
“Because experience is the best teacher, the experience of the West Virginia game will only make Danny better,” Edsall said.
The Terrapins are sure of it.
“Danny O’Brien is not a robot,” offensive lineman R.J. Dill said. “Contrary to what the fans and the media might have thought, he’s not perfect. He’s going to come back this week and be even better.”
Kerry Boykins, who had four catches for 61 yards against West Virginia, saw O’Brien on Sunday and was impressed by the quarterback’s intensity.
“We came back here to lift and I could just tell he was just focused. I saw it on his face,” Boykins said. “He was in the meeting room watching film. He’s so amped right now, ready to go, ready to get that taste out of his mouth. You know the competitor Danny is, and him throwing three picks, he hates that. He’s ready to come out and work.”
O’Brien is only two years out of high school, yet he plays with the maturity of a redshirt senior.
“He’s the offensive leader. He takes charge out there,” Boykins said. “He’s younger than me by two years, yet I still respect him. I love playing with him because he’s such a competitor. I could challenge him to a race right now and in his mind, he would just know he could beat me. I love going out on the field with guys I can depend on, guys I know are going to go to the end. Pretty much like going to war — you have to depend on your brother next to you.”
O’Brien has already passed for 3,075 yards in his career, well within striking distance of former Terps Shaun Hill (3,159), Bob Avellini (3,222), Neil O’Donnell (4,989) and Boomer Esiason (6,259), all of whom went on to play in the NFL.
“That’s cool, but I’ll think about that when I leave here,” O’Brien said. “We’ve got a game ahead of us. It’s full speed ahead for Temple now. The yards will account for themselves.”
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)