COLLEGE PARK -- After throwing two interceptions in three pass attempts in the fourth quarter last week against Bowling Green, Maryland quarterback Caleb Rowe threw an interception that brought an end to his team’s first drive on Saturday against USF.
“I’m sure people thought, ‘Oh, God, here we go,’” head coach Randy Edsall said after the game.
Edsall is spot-on because it sure didn’t look good. That interception set USF up inside the Maryland red zone and the Bulls quickly took a 7-0.
For all the things Rowe improves about this offense, turnovers have been the concern. And that was a bad way to start after the coach had handed you the keys to the offense.
But Rowe fought back, eventually hitting his stride and finishing 21-of-33 for 297 yards with four touchdowns and three interceptions.
“I’m expected to throw touchdowns. I’m expected to not throw interceptions,” Rowe said. “I just got to play better, got to be smarter with the football and make better decisions and not try to force things.”
Edsall was even-handed in his praise and critique of Rowe. He recognized the positives, but also pointed out the flaws.
“As a quarterback, you can’t throw three picks. Those picks led to their points,” Edsall said. “Those are the things we can’t have going forward.”
In some ways, Maryland is dealing with the same sort of problem with Rowe as the Washington Redskins are with Kirk Cousins. In this sense:
It is clear that Maryland’s offense functions more efficiently under Rowe than it did under Perry Hills. The touchdown strike to Taivon Jacobs down the far sideline and the 49-yard pass to Levern Jacobs that set up another score prove that.
That's before mentioning how he threaded the needle to tight end Avery Edwards in the end zone for a touchdown, one of two to the freshman on the day.
But at the same time, interceptions and poor decisions will be magnified as Big Ten play begins and teams make the Terrapins pay more often and more harshly for their mistakes.
“Caleb knows that,” Edsall said. “Alls you can do as a coach is show that to him and go out and prepare during the week and you hope he learns and he grows from it.”