COLLEGE PARK -- Maryland’s offense was anemic, especially in the passing game, in Saturday’s 48-27 blowout loss to Bowling Green. So the staff made a switch, inserting quarterback Caleb Rowe as the starter in the week leading up to a date with South Florida.
Offensive coordinator Mike Locksley was asked on Wednesday if Caleb Rowe, who he called a “gunslinger,” gives Maryland the best chance of stretching the field vertically -- the biggest point of emphasis this week. Locksley answered bluntly.
“That’s why we named him the starter.”
Unlike the past two seasons when Rowe would only seen game action if there were an injury to starter C.J. Brown, the senior has now been handed the keys to the car. It is his offense until his play dictates otherwise.
And for the first time publicly on Wednesday, Locksley intimated that leadership and intangibles were something Rowe was lacking in the preseason. That was, in part, what led the coaching staff to name Perry Hills the team’s Week 1 starter.
“I do see a different side of him now that he has been named the starter from the standpoint of coming in and preparing the way that a starter needs to prepare,” Locksley said.
“It comes along with the territory of being a starting quarterback and so the expectation is that he performs and he leads as that role.”
Head coach Randy Edsall has said he believes Rowe is healthier or at least more comfortable with his health than he was at the start of training camp. That, too, likely helped Hills gain an edge over Rowe in camp.
“I was making the right reads, but ... my footwork wasn’t where I wanted it and my timing wasn’t where I wanted it,” Rowe said on Wednesday.
“As things progressed, I feel a lot more comfortable and it’s easier to make reads when you’re comfortable with your feet.”
The change at quarterback comes in hand with a change at wide receiver, with sophomore Taivon Jacobs and true freshman D.J. Moore slotted in as starters in hopes of sparking that deep passing game.
And Rowe has their support, too.
“People are going to be shocked when he comes in the game this upcoming week,” Jacobs said. “He’s going to shock a lot of people.”