The battle between O'Brien, a traditional, drop-back passer, and Robinson, a dual-threat player, has dominated headlines all season long, ever since O'Brien saw a snap of playing time in an utterly crucial time against Navy. His great performance against Morgan State muddied the waters; his injury then quieted it. But he might've just taken control for good.
O'Brien had a golden opportunity when Robinson couldn't play against FIU due to a rusty throwing shoulder. After a few rough series, he fully took advantage, showing poise, calm, and a mostly accurate throwing arm. When all was said and done, he was 18-27 for 250 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions, and had the best single-game performance from a Terp QB all season.
It's important to note that it also came against a pretty solid pass defense, too. FIU was ranked 20th in passing defense coming into the game; when not including the games against Maryland, that's better than Navy but not as good as West Virginia.
It's also important to note that Maryland's coaches seemed comfortable passing the ball, especially in the middle quarters. That's in stark contrast to the past few Jamarr Robinson outings, most notably Navy, when Robinson attempted just five passes. West Virginia was the first game Maryland really let him sling the ball, and that only came in the second half once Maryland was down 21-0.
On the other hand, O'Brien wasn't flawless. Maryland had to punt seven times, after all, and he got lucky more than a few times in avoiding an interception or getting a nice grab from his wide receiver. It's not enough to overshadow the good, but let's not pretend the performance was flawless. It was still very good, especially for being a first start ever, but again - not flawless.
Ralph Friedgen responded by being mostly non-committal about who would start on Saturday. If Jamarr Robinson is still hurt, he claims, then O'Brien will get the start. Well, duh. The problem will arise if Robinson gets healthy, which one would assume would happen. After all, he'd have two weeks to recover from a supposedly non-serious shoulder injury.
Stats-wise, the decision's obvious. O'Brien has more yards and touchdowns in fewer attempts, a higher passer rating, a significantly better completion percentage, and fewer interceptions (grand total: zero). He looks better in person, too, as a taller, stronger, more poised pocket passing QB.
He also saw two snaps total against the two best opponents Maryland's played so far, and they were a sack and a fumble. Is a handful of snaps plus a single game against a winless Sun Belt team, however competitive they may be, enough to name a freshman the starter going into ACC play?
Robinson is still technically the starter, and the real question is if O'Brien's performance was good enough in Ralph Friedgen's eyes to unseat a starter. It'll be interesting to see; Friedgen traditionally gives an edge to upperclassmen (and severely mismanages QB controversies), but he needs to be in full-time preservation mode right now. That may alter the way he handles the situation. (Again, this is only a decision so long as Robinson actually is healthy; if his throwing shoulder is still sore, then it's a bit of a non-issue.)
Friedgen still says that he'll utilize two QBs, provided they're both healthy. Of course, having Robinson as a full-time starter and then bringing in O'Brien doesn't make much sense; he's one-dimensional, and it would become obvious that Maryland would be passing with him in. If Maryland does use two QBs, it makes a lot more sense to have O'Brien full-time, with Robinson in as a Wild Turtle-type of package, or to run the flexbone.
I've talked about that in the past, and still oppose it because its never worked for Maryland. But now that Robinson's proven himself as a capable passer, maybe things will be different.
So, here's the question of the day: if both are actually healthy - which may or may not be the case - who's the starter on Saturday? Feel free to pitch in with what you would do in this scenario.