COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) — Maryland coach Randy Edsall will wait a few days before naming the successor to injured Perry Hills as the Terrapins’ starting quarterback.
Experience will not factor into the decision, because neither Devin Burns nor Caleb Rowe have ever started a college game.
Hills tore the ACL in his left knee during Saturday’s 20-18 loss to North Carolina State. Hills, a true freshman, gained the starting job after C.J. Brown tore a knee ligament in August.
Burns and Rowe both played against the Wolfpack after Hills was carted off the field in the second quarter. Burns ran for 50 yards and threw for 47 yards before Rowe took over for the final series. Rowe, a true freshman making his college debut, moved the Terrapins 60 yards in five plays during the final 32 seconds before the potential game-winning field goal try hit the left upright.
Now it’s up to Edsall to decide who to use Saturday against Boston College. The fleet-footed Burns would appear to have the edge, because Maryland’s running game flourished while he was in the game.
“They are both excellent quarterbacks,” Edsall said Tuesday. “They are both guys I trust, our guys trust and our players trust to be able to do the job and do it effectively. We’ll put a plan together knowing either one of those guys could go in the game and play at any given time. We’ll find out on Saturday what that plan is going to be.”
With Burns directing the spread-option attack, North Carolina State had difficulty getting a bead of running back Wes Brown, who gained 97 of his 121 yards rushing in the second half. Burns came to Maryland as a quarterback, switched to wide receiver and then back to quarterback after Brown’s injury.
Now he’s on the brink of possibly making his first college start.
“He is a kid that loves to play the game,” Edsall said “He’s somebody who has a smile on his face all of the time and is a tremendous competitor. He has a quick release, is athletic enough to make plays with his feet, can read defenses well, and is someone who our players respect.”
That’s one reason why the Terrapins (4-3, 2-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) aren’t in a state of panic without Hills.
“It’s a terrible loss, but we’re in the middle of a season now,” offensive tackle Justin Gilbert said. “We’re 4-3 and still have a good shot in the ACC. We have to keep playing our game. We can’t let something like losing Perry — as tragic as it was — slow us down. Whoever goes in at quarterback is the guy that’s leading us.
“Everybody saw Saturday that Devin is a mobile quarterback, a very athletic guy. Caleb is a gunslinger, a pocket passer. He gets in there and is not afraid to make plays.”
Edsall insisted that the mood of the team remains upbeat.
“There’s no gloom around here. If you see our kids, they’re not down in the dumps,” he said. “I just told our guys that everything we want is still ahead of us. That’s what we have to have our focus on, and prepare for, to keep it that way.”
To add depth at quarterback, Edsall moved Shawn Petty from linebacker and Brian McMahon from tight end. Both are true freshmen who were quarterbacks in high school before changing positions at Maryland.
Defensive end A.J. Francis kiddingly threw his name into the mix.
“I told coach Edsall that I played quarterback in 6th grade,” Francis said. “He said he probably figured I have a good arm but wouldn’t be able to run the zone-read effectively. So he told me I’m 18th string.”
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)