“They’re starting to gain confidence all over, and [O'Brien] is a lot of that because of his demeanor in the huddle and his presence,” Friedgen said. “He told me last week, ‘don’t sweat this one, Coach.’”
Instead of forcing throws into double-coverage and playing recklessly, the maturity of O’Brien’s play in running the West Coast offense has the Terps seeking bigger things beyond simple bowl eligibility. The freshman’s performance against the likes of Miami and Florida State will be pivotal in determining how realistic that is.
“He’s smart, he’s confident,” said Smith, who caught his seventh touchdown of the season. “He’s wise beyond his years, so years-wise he’s a freshman out there, but mentally, he’s ahead of the game. He understands the game of football, so that’s what makes him a great quarterback.”
For a program with such dissension over the last few seasons and question marks surrounding the futures of Friedgen and Franklin, O’Brien just might be the player to save both of their jobs — at least for now. Much like the Terrapins’ 6-2 start, their quarterback continues to do his job exceptionally well with very few taking notice to this point.
A major test in southern Florida looms next week when the Terps travel to Miami in a game that would certainly demand attention should they knock off the wounded Hurricanes, who lost in embarrassing fashion to Virginia on Saturday.
It will be O’Brien’s biggest test to date. And if his demeanor through the season’s first nine weeks says anything, he’ll be ready.
“Miami’s a good team. It’s going to be a challenge, but we’re ready for it.”
NOTES: With Saturday’s win, the Terps became bowl-eligible for the seventh time in Friedgen’s 10 seasons. It was also Maryland’s fifth straight home win. … The 62-point explosion matched the Terps’ highest output ever in an ACC game. Maryland scored 62 against Virginia in 1975. … The Maryland defense held the Demon Deacons to minus-3 yards net rushing, the first time the unit had held an opponent to negative rushing since 2001 when Troy State rushed for minus-1. … The Terps blocked two punts, giving them four for the season. … Running back Da’Rel Scott became the 10th in school history to reach 2,000 career rushing yards on his fourth carry of the game. He finished with 50 yards on 11 carries.
To hear more from Danny O’Brien, Ralph Friedgen, James Franklin, and Torrey Smith, visit the BuyAToyota.come Audio Vault.