In his first collegiate start last weekend, Maryland quarterback C.J. Brown rushed for 162 yard against the No. 7 team in the nation, undefeated Clemson. Are the Terps gearing up for back-to-back Rookie of the Year awards by two quarterbacks on the same roster? Danny O'Brien, at least for now, is out; Brown is in. I caught up with Brown earlier this week to get his take on how this season has unfolded for the position. Here are the highlights of our interview:
How much have you surprised yourself?
C.J. Brown: I always knew I could do it. It was just a matter of having things fall into place and being able to take advantage of the opportunity. Luckily so far I think I have, and hopefully I can build upon that.
I remember during the spring or summer that coach Randy Edsall had mentioned you were pushing Danny O’Brien, but I’m not sure how seriously everyone took it. I don’t think people were really aware of how much you were pushing him. In retrospect, how much of a competition was really there this summer?
CJB: I think there’s always going to be competition, but how much are people really going to pay attention to it, especially with the season Danny had last year and the accolades he received? I really wasn’t reading into it because there wasn’t anything I could control. I could only control what I was doing and the coaches were seeing that and he made a comment, but I’m just lucky and thankful I’ve been given this opportunity.
When did you realize that entering the starting lineup was a real possibility for you?
CJB: Not until last week. When I was able to get some time at Georgia Tech and go in and make an impact. I always knew I could do it, but when was the right time for that opportunity to come?
CJB: Physically I feel good, my legs feel good, I take care of my body. I haven’t taken too many big hits, so I feel good.
Is it still a competition? Are you constantly looking over your shoulder, or do you feel like there’s been an official changing of the guard?
CJB: No, I think there is always going to be a competition. Danny is going to push me just like I pushed him. We’re just trying to better each other and better the team and hopefully get victories.
How comfortable are you in this offense?
CJB: I feel like I’m very comfortable. I feel like I fit like a piece to a puzzle. What coach [offensive coordinator Gary] Crowton has taught me and installed in this offense, I think I can run the offense the way he wants it to be run.
How have you been received in the huddle?
CJB: I feel like I’ve been received as the person I come off as. I have great chemistry with the guys, I’ve known most of the guys since I’ve been here. We’ve all come in together. I feel like it’s been a smooth transition. Everything is running well.
How has it been with Danny? Has it been rocky at all?
CJB: No, not really, and I didn’t think it would. We’re great friends. I was there to support him, and he’s been there to support me. When I came off the sideline, or he came off the sideline, we were always there telling each other what we saw and what we could do to make changes and stuff like that.
How frustrating is it having for you the kind of game you did against Clemson and still not coming out with the win?
CJB: I think it’s frustrating anytime you lose, especially having a lead against a top-10 team in the nation at home. But you’re proud of the effort and disappointed in the outcome. Unfortunately we didn’t get a win. We’ll get back at it this week and we have a big road test at Florida State.
What do you guys have to do better to reverse your fortunes down the stretch?
CJB: We just have to beat down the door, finish. We’ve had the opportunities and we’ve come up short. Once that happens, we’ll be able to take the next step.
It seems like the coaching transition has been a huge positive for you. How much of it has been about the change in offensive styles?
CJB: I guess you can look at it that way. I still have tons of respect for coach (Ralph) Friedgen and coach (James) Franklin. I love those guys to death. I’ve tried to adapt to the offense. Anytime you’re put in adverse situations you have to adapt. I’m just trying to do my best and do what the coaches want me to do.