O’Brien Not Thinking About Future After Another Maryland Loss

November 05, 2011 | Glenn Clark

Danny O'Brien, Randy Edsall

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — In case you missed it (and I have a hunch that says many of you did), the University of Maryland football team lost 31-13 to to the University of Virginia Saturday at Capital One Field at Byrd Stadium. The Terrapins (2-7, 1-5 ACC) appeared out of sync and lacked composure while the Cavaliers (6-3, 3-2 ACC) were opportunistic and balanced.

There were a number of empty seats throughout the stadium despite the Senior Day festivities, fans in attendance were heard booing and some even began chants of “Fire Edsall.” Those fans were voicing their displeasure at the fact that the loss eliminated the team’s chances of reaching bowl eligibility in their first season under new head coach Randy Edsall.

It was another brutal Saturday in a season of brutal Saturdays for this Terps team, decimated by injuries and lackluster play after a 9-4 campaign a season ago and the firing of popular long-term head coach Ralph Friedgen.

In the certain of the season-long disappointment has been sophomore quarterback Danny O’Brien, the reigning ACC Rookie of the Year. O’Brien came into the season with lofty expectations, labeled by some as a potential dark horse Heisman Trophy candidate. Instead of performing at that level, O’Brien has struggled to fit new Offensive Coordinator Gary Crowton’s scheme, dealt with drops from receivers and has been forced to split time with fellow sophomore CJ Brown.

In Saturday’s loss, O’Brien started the game before giving way to Brown in the second quarter. The two then (mostly) alternated playing time the rest of the way with little effectiveness. O’Brien finished the day 16/36 for 241 yards and two interceptions. (Brown was 4/7 for 28 yards with a touchdown and a pick, along with 24 yards on the ground.)

With the team struggling and the offense not clicking, much has been made by Terps fans and analysts who cover/follow the team about O’Brien’s future in College Park. Many believe the team’s unwillingness to stick with the sophomore will ultimately lead to him deciding to look elsewhere after the season for a place where he could transfer and become the primary starter in an offense more suited to his abilities.

Those talking about the possibility are most not connected to O’Brien whatsoever.

“I haven’t even (given) that any thought to be honest” O’Brien said following the Terrapins’ setback. “Right now it’s just about beating Notre Dame.”

(The Terps next face the Fighting Irish Saturday, November 12 at FedEx Field in Landover.)

“I feel like if I’m thinking about my future beyond next week I’m kinda cheating my teammates just because they’re counting on me when I’m in there (and not when I’m in there) to make plays” O’Brien added. “I’m not really gonna think about that. I’m here and I’m proud to be here.”

The frustration has been evident for O’Brien this season, as the team entered with hopes of improving upon their 2010 season, which ended with a win over East Carolina in the Military Bowl. The Terrapins have just one victory over a FBS level opponent since defeating the Pirates, their season opening Labor Day win over Miami.

It would be impossible for O’Brien to thrive while still splitting time with Brown no matter what each skill set allows for. Edsall said of the dilemma, “I would love to just be able to play one guy.” He then went on to explain that both quarterbacks offered valuable skills and could have roles no matter who the future starter would be.

Edsall made another comment that was much more appropriate about the situation.

“It’s just not all on the quarterbacks.”

It certainly isn’t. The struggles of the offense include the receivers, the Offensive Line and probably the coaching staff as well. Edsall should by no means be absolved from blame when it comes to the apparent regression of the starter he inherited. Edsall has gone on and on about doing everything based on giving the team the “best opportunity to win”, but the only thing the team hasn’t done much of is…well…win. It would be safe to say that based on the evidence we’ve seen on the field, Edsall’s argument for playing both quarterbacks just doesn’t hold up.

That said, the offense has lacked rhythm and the quarterback carousel probably hasn’t helped. But even if the offense were more consistent, the inexperience on the defensive side of the ball and the woeful play of many special teams units would probably spell trouble for the Terps in general. The Terrapins have problems that go well beyond the quarterbacks.

But O’Brien was supposed to be the player that could guide this team through all of that.

That clearly hasn’t been the case.

It would be understandable if O’Brien ultimately decided there was another place where his skill set could be better utilized. It would be understandable if O’Brien ultimately decided he didn’t want to go into another season expecting to have to split time with another quarterback.

It would be understandable if O’Brien were wearing a uniform not made by Under Armour in the future.

It would just be disappointing considering all of the other problems facing the program at the time.


6 Comments For This Post

  1. joe of bel air Says:

    Glenn: I personally think Randy Edsall has set the MD. football program back 15 years. I have read several stories about his program in the Washington Post and he seems to be running the football program like a boot camp. No earrings, no long hair, players can’t talk to the press. Bottom line is no high school kid worth a damn is gonna come to Maryland with Drill SGT Edsall in charge. Get use to 3 and 4 win seasons as long as he is head coach. Interesting how the AD Anderson has f’ed up the program. Very interesting the year James Franklin is having at Vanderbilt. I think we let the wrong coach go. Anxious to see how many players leave the program at the end of the season. Anderson may have hit a home run hiring Turgeon but he definitely struck out with Edsall. Edsall is better suited to coach at the last place Anderson was the AD (West Point) than at MD.

  2. Christian Says:

    I guess when deciding on a new coach KA did not take into consideration that DOB is good in a certain system…Ralph would have more wins with this team, should’ve kept him, and I’m sure he’s laughing his @$$ off about this too haha, well so am I…hopefully Turgeon turns out better, though, I’m not expecting much this year, but hopefully he doesn’t flop like Deadsul has so far…I know it’s 9 games, BUT 2 WINS, UNACCEPTABLE

  3. Chuck Says:

    A FAR better analysis by WNST than last week’s complete omission of the Boston College embarrassment! Thank you for the analysis. I was very disappointed in WNST last week!

    Maryland football is in “deep feces” and I am not optimistic for any more wins this season. I value Maryland football more for the entertainment value of the touch downs, the cheerleaders backflipping in the end zone, the non-stop dancing by pom-poms, the exuberant band, the camaraderie in the stands with fellow alumni, fans and friends eating boardwalk fries smothered in Old Bay and also as a technique to suggest college for high schoolers versus some other routes in life. But I also value in it for the revenue it can bring to the school which in turn offers more courses, better professors, more scholarships, etc.

    I was already far away serving in the military when Bias died. I recall the sheer foolishness when I heard from alumni how the chancellor wanted to do away with all college sports and focus Maryland on academics to be the “Harvard of public education.” The revenue the school lost with such folly was bewildering. IN 2008 I could shop in a sports store in Havre, Montana (pop. 9,600) and buy a Duke or UNC jersey in that store. There was NO Maryland jersey for sale there. the point being, a reasonably consistent winning team can generate revenue in ways the average consumer has no idea about and a proceed of each of those jerseys went back to their respective schools. By the way, UNC, VIrginia and about 50 other institutions beat Maryland as top ranking for education in US News & World Report so I don’t see us being the public version of “Harvard” even 30 years after Bias’s death.

    I did not go to Maryland for athletics. I went there for the education but I know winning sports programs that can generate meaningful revenue are very helpful for the overall education program. No matter how great field hockey, soccer, lacross and other sports are, I suspect men’s football and mens basketball are the real revenue generators and they must be handled appropriately.

    Having earned an AA at Marion Military Institute (Alabama) in 78 I can tell you our football players did not generally like the regimented “military environment” in general and only kept their hair short and attended formations at 06:00 in the morning with the hopes of getting playing time enough to make them competitive when they transferred to Alabama or Auburn. Marion had a very good junior college football program in those days but at some point they disbanded that program. That being said, I only hear minimal comments addressing Edsall’s “discipline” being fussed about. Having spent 30 years to the day involved in the U.S. armed forces (including combat) I do greatly appreciate and understand the need for discipline but this is athletics, not “life and death” and a certain “free spirit” tends to excel in sports for a talented few. If a receiver has more self-pride and confidence in himself with hair hanging out of his helmet, then I say let it hang despite it being a target for opportunity to it to be grabbed in a tackle (regardless of any subsequent flags it has to hurt).

    In the final analysis the only thing that will be remembered is the win or the loss. Heck, many Americans cannot even recall who Reagan, Bush, Clinton and Bush defeated in the presidential elections of their day and all of them are sill alive. When it comes to college ball Maryland definitely needs some wins. The fan base continues to decline and revenue is disappearing with it. This is serious and warrants attention from the Chancellor. Edsall deserves a chance but this appears to be of epic challenges which will set back Maryland football at least 4 years. I cannot imagine whey any high school athlete with above average athletic talent would want to try out for Maryland football next year. Maybe I need to give up my season tickets next year and save my money for when they get their act together???

    (Edit from GMC: Ralph Friedgen used to talk about the “fellowship” of college football. That’s about the only thing your dollar gets you there anymore.

    My apologies for no post-game coverage last week; I wanted to get to Towson for their very exciting game against Delaware.)

  4. Tim Says:

    So much to look forward to after a great East Carolina game, which now seems like it was years ago. Ralph’s dismissal, whether warranted or not, lacked class, as did any comment Coach Edsell has made about last season and / or MD fans. It’s now a mess of a season that can’t end soon enough. Any more wins this year? Bet not.

  5. Ron Says:

    I’m not an Edsall fan (don’t really know him yet), but I heard 7 starters are out on D, in addition to the fact the he hasn’t had the chance to recruit a single player. I like Obrien a lot, but he’s stunk this year! (LOTS of telegraphed passes for INTS and just missing INTS) Edsall went ot 4 straight bowl games with an unheralded program and including a BCS bowl last year. They also lost 3 starters from last year on O that went to the NFL I think. IF this is true, it’s funny how Terps fans overlook all of these facts. Not sure if Edsall’s the right guy, but give him a chance to recruit his own team!

  6. FREDTERP Says:

    Chuck do you think anyone read your entire post. FREDTERP

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