Maryland Terrapins head football coach Randy Edsall has a lot invested in quarterback C.J. Brown.
After causing 2010 ACC Freshman of the Year Danny O’Brien to transfer to Wisconsin in the offseason, Edsall only has one QB on the roster with any Division I experience in Brown. Edsall’s position on the hot seat has been well-documented during the past year, and Brown’s performance in 2012 will be the determining factor in the coach's job security beyond this season.
It all started in Week Five last season, when O’Brien was benched in favor of Brown versus Georgia Tech. In all, Brown started five games and was named the 2012 starter in February after O’Brien transferred.
Brown was electrifying at times last year (including this 77-yard TD run in his first significant action versus GT), setting multiple Maryland records and even leading the NCAA in some categories. Here are some of his highlights:
- Led all qualifying NCAA Division I QBs with 7.27 yards-per-rushing-attempt.
- Set single-game Maryland QB rushing record with 162 yards vs. Clemson.
- Set single-season Maryland QB rushing record with 574 yards on the ground.
- Became the only QB in Terrapins’ history to have multiple 100-yard rushing games (3).
One big issue with Brown and his running frequency is his durability. As a redshirt freshman, he missed 11 contests due to a shoulder injury. Last season versus Florida State, he was knocked out of the game (and didn’t start another until four weeks later) with a head injury.
Brown carried the ball 60 times in his four full games as a starter, and weighing in at only 205 pounds, he will have to bulk up if he wants to carry the ball 15 times per game for 12 games.
Take a look back at his 2011 stat highlights above. Not one is a passing statistic. The other big issue with Brown is his passing proficiency (or lack thereof), even though he’s working with new offensive coordinator Mike Locksley to improve his progressions and footwork.
Brown completed less than 50% of his passes last season (49.4%) with a miserable 5.07 yards-per-attempt. His decision-making needs to get better, as evidenced by his 7:6 TD:INT ratio. Brown’s passing didn’t look any better in the Maryland Spring scrimmage, where he completed only 17 of 33 attempts for 199 yards (6.03 YPA).
Here's a look at Brown’s numbers in crucial situations last season:
- On third downs: 46.3 completion %, 3.88 YPA
- In the second half of games: 41.7 completion %, 4.41 YPA
- When playing AP-ranked teams: 40.4 completion %, 4.10 YPA
If Brown wants to lead this Maryland team to a winning record, there’s no doubt that he’ll have to improve his passing numbers.
Let’s take a look at Tim Tebow. Sure, he was a Heisman-winning, dual-threat quarterback, and it’s not fair to compare Brown to Tebow.
However, there aren’t many people who praise Tebow for his passing abilities. With that being said, he still completed 66.4% of his passes for 9.3 YPA during his four years at Florida. Let's also not forget that Tebow had a marvelous 5.5 TD/INT ratio.
I’m not saying C.J. Brown has to be Tim Tebow in order for Maryland to be competitive. But, he was classified as a “dual-threat” QB coming out of high school. Thus far in his career, Brown has only proven a single threat; running the football.