COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) — Now that C.J. Brown has gotten over the euphoria of playing football again, his focus is on becoming a better quarterback.
It’s an understandable quest, except Brown left very little room for improvement after leading Maryland to a 43-10 victory over Florida International last week.
Returning from a knee injury that forced him to miss all last season, the fifth-year senior completed 20 of 23 passes for three touchdowns and ran for 105 yards and two scores.
Still, Brown believes there are still a few flaws that need to be corrected before Maryland (1-0) hosts Old Dominion (0-1) on Saturday.
“There were some reads that I need to make better,” he said. “We had a couple miscommunications and just awareness of the clock and things like that. But it’s one game. We went out and played well and did what we had to do to win. Now we have a big test coming up this week.”
Here are five things to watch when Maryland takes on Old Dominion:
DEFENSIVELY CHALLENGED: Old Dominion gave up 52 points to East Carolina last Saturday, and now the Monarchs are facing a unit that put up 40 points before halftime and finished with 576 yards. “Our big challenge this week is going to be containing a very explosive offense,” ODU coach Bobby Wilder said. The Monarchs didn’t measure up last week, at least on defense. ECU completed 46 of 54 passes for 447 yards and five touchdowns.
SURPRISINGLY GOOD: C.J. Brown excelled in 2011, but few could have anticipated him being so polished in his first outing since tearing his left ACL in summer practice a year ago. “I was glad to see C.J. be productive,” Maryland offensive coordinator Mike Locksley said. “For me, he was an unknown commodity based on having him in the spring where he wasn’t a guy who took shots or got hit, so to see him and how he responded in a game situation was good for me as a play caller.”
STEPPING UP: Old Dominion is a Football Championship Subdivision team making the transition to the Football Bowl Subdivision. The Monarchs will remain an FCS independent this year before joining Conference USA in 2014. In its debut against an FBS opponent, ODU hung with East Carolina for three quarters before fading in a 14-point defeat. Wilder was disappointed with the loss — but not too much.
“The ultimate goal was to beat ECU and obviously we didn’t,” he said. “But we played football all the way through the fourth quarter. So I feel like we made a statement that we can play at that level. We wanted to make the statement that we can play at that level in Conference USA, and ECU is the best in the league.”
NOT OVERCONFIDENT: Brown and the Terps gained confidence from their victory over Florida International. But after going 4-8 last year — including a 7-6 win over William & Mary — they’re not looking past the Monarchs.”We are not going to take this game lightly,” Brown said. “They played well last week against a good ECU team, so they are going to come in here and try to knock us off their list.” Maryland coach Randy Edsall said, “We’re good enough to beat anybody on our schedule, but if we’re not doing the things we’re supposed to, and preparing properly, then anybody on our schedule can beat us.”
THE OTHER GUY: Brown won’t be the only one putting the ball up in the air Saturday. ODU quarterback Taylor Heinicke went 38 for 51 for 338 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions last week, and he also ran for a team-high 52 yards. “I think the main concern is that he can create things when you’ve covered the receivers,” Maryland defensive coordinator Brian Stewart said. “If you cover the receiver, that may be the worst thing you can do because then he has the chance to outrun the rush. He seems to be extremely fast. He gets on the edges, ducks in, gets out and can throw both left and right. Just him improvising, that’s my biggest concern.”
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)