Maryland Football: We all owe C.J. Brown an apology


Maryland wrapped up their tumultuous 2015 football season with a comeback win over a struggling Rutgers squad. With the 46-41 road victory, the Terrapins narrowly avoided finishing the year on a nine-game losing skid. Maryland finished with a 3-9 mark and ended the season looking up at every other Big Ten East team in the final standings, including Rutgers (who have one more win, despite having the same conference record). Maryland’s win on Saturday marked their only conference win of the season.

The year began with relatively high hopes after the Terps found some success during their 2014 campaign. That team finished the season 7-6 in their first season as members of the Big Ten conference. Although this season began with a victory, eyebrows were immediately raised at then-head coach Randy Edsall‘s decision to name junior Perry Hills the team’s starting quarterback over Caleb Rowe, the presumed heir apparent to previous starter C.J. Brown. Even though the Terps won that home opener against Richmond by a comfortable score of 50-21, something about the team seemed a little off.

More specifically, the offense never quite clicked as the final score might have otherwise suggested. Even more specifically, Hills looked uncomfortable and hurried with every snap of the football. Issues with accuracy and arm strength were immediately apparent, positional issues that seemed to carry over from the previous few seasons despite the end of the Brown era after 2014.

As the 2015 season progressed, the offensive struggles prompted the coaching staff to accept a revolving door-type mindset at the quarterback position. By the Terps’ fourth game of the season, three different quarterbacks had been handed the reins to the offense in an attempt to find some semblance of an offensive spark.

Rowe and Daxx Garman performed so poorly in their respective opportunities to lead the Maryland offense that it compelled the coaching staff to revert back to the comparatively more efficient Hills. Aside from missing the November 21 matchup against Indiana with mononucleosis and being pulled yet again in the final game of 2015 for ineffectiveness, Hills remained the starter for the most part since October 10 at Ohio State. This particular game is significant for another reason, because it was of course Edsall’s last game as Maryland’s head coach. While Edsall needed to go in my opinion, I don’t think there is a coach on this planet who could have squeezed anything additional from the quarterback position this year.

The takeaway from the 2015 dumpster fire season? Maryland football fans owe Brown an apology.

The trio of Hills, Rowe, and Garman combined to provide the Terps with one of the most inefficient offenses in all of FBS Division I college football in 2015. Maryland finished the season ranked dead last out of 128 teams in interceptions thrown per game with 2.5. Only one other team finished the year with more than two interceptions thrown per game on average. Unsurprisingly, Maryland also led all 128 teams in another related category, with 3.2 total turnovers per game. The Terps finished 99th out of 128 in completions per game with just 15.5, which is especially embarrassing considering Maryland threw over 33 pass attempts per game. The math here isn’t difficult; that’s completing less than half of passes thrown. Just a few more stats to really drive this obvious overriding theme home: Maryland ranked 104th in passing yards per game (177.6), 120th in yards per pass attempt (5.3), and 100th in total offensive points per game (~21.3).

By comparison, here’s how Maryland’s offense fared last season under Brown, looking at these same statistical categories:

  • Interceptions thrown per game: 1.1 INT/game, 79th in FBS Div. I (compared to 2.5 per game in 2015, 128th in FBS Div. I)
  • Total turnovers per game: 1.8 turnovers/game, 70th in FBS Div. I (compared to 3.2 per game in 2015, 128th)
  • Completions per game: 17.5 completions/game, 83rd (compared to 15.5 per game in 2015, 99th)
  • Passing yards/game: 223.1, 69th (compared to 177.6/game in 2015, 104th)
  • Passing yards per attempt: 7.0, 65th (compared to 5.3 yds/pass attempt in 2015, 120th)
  • Total offensive points per game: 23.5, 85th (compared to 21.3in 2015, 100th)

Brown received the brunt of fan criticism the past couple years, particularly last year despite the team’s winning record. Of course Brown was not the most effective quarterback to ever play the position for Maryland, not even of the past decade, but he still managed to lead the team to 13 wins over the previous two seasons.

In 2014, Brown finished with 21 total touchdowns (13 passing, 8 rushing) against 10 interceptions. The dual-threat quarterback amassed 2,827 total yards (2,288 passing, 539 rushing). Not Heisman numbers obviously, but he was effective enough to lead an offense and to keep Maryland in most games, something that surely cannot be said of any Terrapin quarterback this season.

Brown was less than effective at times, and we all saw his fair share of interceptions and overthrows that left us scratching our heads. But with Brown under center, the Terps stood a chance of coming away with the victory, and at the very least, showing signs of life and an ability to put up a fight. In 2015, most of Maryland’s games seemed to be over before halftime.

So on behalf of all Terps fans: Sorry C.J.

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