Sep 21, 2013; Baltimore, MD, USA; Maryland Terrapins quarterback CJ Brown (16) runs for a gain past diving West Virginia Mountaineers lineman Eric Kinsey (45) at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports
Although Maryland’s lopsided victory last weekend looks pretty on paper, many are concerned with the Terrapins passing attack.
With weapons for Maryland in Stefon Diggs, Deon Long, Marcus Leak and Juwann Winfree, Maryland’s potential for a lethal air attack is what made many most excited. Although the running game was overly impressive last week, sixth-year quarterback C.J. Brown had issues consistently getting the ball down the field. Overthrown and inaccurate passes made fans scratch their heads, and wondering if this could be a persistent issue.
However, this week gives Brown a chance to make those inexcusable throws a distant memory and build on his reputation as a dual-threat quarterback.
In an interview in the Baltimore Sun this past week, South Florida safety Nate Godwin said the objective last week was to keep the ball in front of the South Florida secondary, then collapsing on the receiver. However, Maryland is no Western Carolina, and South Florida knows that. The Bulls defense allowed 378 passing yards against an offense that primarily focuses on bubble screens and short gains.
The secondary will certainly be tested, but with big receivers in Juwann Winfree and Deon Long, the entire field will be much more open for Maryland. South Florida will be forced to cover the entire field at all times, but the question remains: which Brown will show up?
In 2013, Brown threw for 2,242 yards last year on 58.9 percent passing without his two top targets in Diggs and Long for the last six games. Brown also finished 55th in the nation in passing efficiency, ahead of quarterbacks such as Michigan State’s Connor Cook, Penn State’s Christian Hackenberg and Oklahoma’s Blake Bell to name a few. It’s evident that Brown has the talent to overcome poor games like last week. To say that Brown can’t get it done through the air is inaccurate, but we have seen over the years that he has had issues with the deep ball as every quarterback has at times.
When Brown first took over the offense after Danny O’Brien was benched in 2011, Brown finished the game at Georgia Tech completing 4-of-17 passes for a mere 36 yards. Brown instinctively focused on his legs to get the job done, and the offense became much more basic throughout the year.
Now, Brown has developed into a much more sound passer and is considered a more complete dual-threat quarterback. Each year, he has improved his passing and mechanics, and it’s shown in the stat sheet. While the deep ball is still a question mark, Brown will get back to basics this week.
South Florida’s thin secondary is made up of JUCO transfers and plenty of raw talent. South Florida bent, but didn’t break—completely—against Western Carolina. Both the secondary and Brown will look to improve on last week’s less-than-ideal performance.
With a strong running game, the field will open up for Brown and his weapons. This time, Brown must learn from his mistakes against James Madison, and correct them in Tampa.