- Heather Dinich, ESPN Staff Writer
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Maryland coach Randy Edsall said he doesn’t feel “jinxed.”
Instead, he called four season-ending injuries to four different quarterbacks in the past three months “a little bit unlucky.”
Ya don’t say.
“I’ve never seen anything like it, and the severity of the injuries,” said Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson, whose team will face the Terps in Byrd Stadium on Saturday. “I’d have to think back through the years, where someone might be down to a fourth guy in a position for a week or two, but I’ve never seen that many season-ending injuries.”
On Saturday, the Jackets will see Maryland’s latest quarterback -- Shawn Petty, a true freshman linebacker who played quarterback in high school. There simply are no more scholarship quarterbacks available on the roster. What’s amazing about the Terps is that it hasn’t mattered much -- they’ve still been in every game this year, thanks to one of the ACC’s best defenses. Edsall has done a remarkable job this season of keeping his players believing. Instead of being wide-eyed and shocked by his improbable promotion to starting quarterback, Petty is ready to try to keep the job, according to Edsall.
“When I went to him last week and told him we were going to put him at quarterback, his eyes kind of lit up,” Edsall said. “I think it's something about that position. Once you've been a quarterback, you always want to be a quarterback. I think what Shawn has in mind is he wants to do very, very well so he can stay at quarterback.”
If Maryland could actually get a quarterback to stay at quarterback, it would be a win for the Terps, regardless of what the scoreboard says.
Caleb Rowe, who was the last scholarship available on the roster, made it through all four quarters of last week’s loss to Boston College, but not before tearing his ACL. Maryland was facing a third down on the second-to-last play in the game when Rowe came out of the pocket, ran the ball, and felt his leg buckle as he went down.
“When he got up, I saw him, he didn't get up right away, kind of got on one knee,” Edsall said. “I saw he had a problem. He was limping a little bit. In my mind I'm thinking, ‘We’ve got to get Shawn ready to go.’
“The trainers came to me and said he was OK. He went in the last play. But overnight it stiffened up on him, swelled on him. We got the MRI on Sunday and found out he tore his ACL.”
And Petty found out he was the next starter.
When Petty starts on Saturday, Maryland will become one of seven schools to have started three different quarterbacks this season (also Southern Miss -- 4; and Colorado State, Kentucky, Minnesota, Tulane and Utah -- 3).
It’s not like Petty has never thrown the ball. He was an All-Met selection at Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Greenbelt, Md. As a quarterback, he threw for 1,300 yards and 15 touchdowns, and ran for 550 yards and 10 touchdowns. Fellow true freshman Brian McMahon, a tight end, will back up Petty. McMahon also played quarterback in high school.
“He knows how to handle the huddle, everything else,” Edsall said of Petty. “Big things for him are in terms of the terminology, all those things. Again, maybe the checks that we have in.
“We started last week, we started to build a package for him a week ago,” Edsall said. “You add to it and you see how much he can handle. We'll have a game plan and packages ready to incorporate him on Saturday, what he does best, what the other guys do well.”
Quarterbacks aren't the only thing Maryland is running short on these days. Jersey numbers are tough to come by, too. Petty will still be wearing his No. 31 on Saturday, and McMahon will still be in No. 87.
"Doug Flutie wore No. 22," Edsall said. "It’s an eligible number to play that position so we are going to keep them in those jerseys because we really don’t have any other numbers to put them in. All of the other numbers are taken. It will be a little bit different. It will give everyone something to talk about.”
Like a true freshman linebacker under center isn't enough.