It’s hard to explain.
Maryland coach Randy Edsall certainly didn’t provide any answers regarding his quarterback situation on today’s ACC coaches teleconference.
I asked Edsall how quarterback Danny O'Brien went from being the ACC’s 2010 Rookie of the Year to competing for a starting job this week.
“We just evaluate every position and the guys that are the best guys are going to play,” Edsall said. “It’s all based on production in terms of how they do. The quarterback position is no different than any other. The good thing is that we have two really, really good players I think. Hopefully we can continue to build that kind of depth at each position.”
Coachspeak translated: The competition is open. I opened it. ‘Nuff said.
I have a hard time believing O’Brien has gotten worse. Maybe it’s the new scheme that’s unflattering to him. Maybe it’s the fact he doesn’t have the same dependable receivers he had a year ago. Maybe he’s made six-too many bad decisions. Maybe he said he didn’t like the latest uniform combination.
Whatever it is, Edsall wouldn’t pinpoint it. But heading into Saturday’s game against Clemson, O’Brien is competing against C.J. Brown for the top spot on the depth chart.
When asked what O’Brien isn’t doing as well as he did last year, Edsall replied, “I wasn’t here last year.”
“I just see what we do,” he said. “He’s just got to go out and play and relax and just do the things that the play calls for each and every play.”
He did that pretty well a year ago.
O’Brien, you might remember, was 7-3 in his first season as a starter last year. His 22 touchdown passes were third in the ACC and fourth in the FBS among freshmen. He completed 57 percent of his passes for 2,438 yards, 22 touchdowns and eight interceptions.
This year, he is No. 10 in the ACC in passing efficiency. He has completed 62.2 percent of his passes for 930 yards, four touchdowns and six interceptions.
Question: What is C.J. giving you that Danny has not?
Edsall: "Both of them are very good quarterbacks and they do have some different skill sets. Each of them tries to utilize their skill sets to the best of their ability in terms of what we’re trying to do offensively."
Coachspeak translated: I’m not going to tell you every problem my quarterback has, but obviously C.J. is bringing something to the offense Danny is not. That’s why I benched him on Saturday.
Q: What do you want to see from the quarterbacks in practice this week?
Edsall: “We have our things we use to evaluate the players and we’ll continue that as we go throughout the week. We’ll have a starting quarterback on Saturday night.”
Coachspeak translated: How many mistakes they make, if they’re making the right reads, how well they’re reading the defenses, turnovers, timing, release. You know, all secret things I don’t want Clemson to read about.
Consider this one a game-time decision.
“Our team knows that we’re going to play the best guy,” Edsall said. “Whoever is the best guy at their position is going to play. That’s been demonstrated since I’ve gotten here. We don’t have the names on the back of the jerseys. It’s about Maryland. I’m going to make those decisions I think are best for what makes Maryland football the best. It’s never anything personal. It’s about working to get the best guys on the field and give us that opportunity to win. Those are the decisions I have to make.”
Until he does, Maryland’s quarterback situation remains a mystery -- not just who the starter will be this week, but how Maryland got to this competition in the first place.