Anytime you have 11 yards passing, something went wrong somewhere. I don't really care if Maryland only attempted five passes in the first place; nor do I care that, for the most part, Maryland was still able to run the ball effectively. Because that's what happened in yesterday's Maryland-Navy game, and it's fairly obvious that the Terps aren't up to snuff in their passing game.
Just a few examples from yesterday's game: Jamarr Robinson's first attempted pass came in the middle of the second quarter; it was an interception. On third and ten, up by only seven and without any offensive spark in two quarters, James Franklin calls a QB draw; Maryland doesn't convert. In desperate need of points in a tie game with the ball on the Navy 16 in the fourth quarter, Ralph Friedgen sent in redshirt freshman Danny O'Brien instead of Robinson.
It's clear that Robinson, Maryland's starter, isn't quite confident with his passing ability; the interception and his shakiness in the pocket made that clear. It's also clear that Maryland's coaching staff concurs; after all, they called a QB draw on 3rd and ten, and there's that whole Danny O'Brien thing, too.
And the stats back all that up. Remember: 11 passing yards. Even Navy, who runs more than anyone else in the country, passed more than Maryland. The Terps had more points than passing yards.
You can maybe get away with that type of performance against a Navy-type of defense, which is undersized and out-classed athletically. Maryland did this time, but not by a lot. The thing is, that won't fly against West Virginia, Clemson, or even Duke. When the defense is good enough to stop the run at least some of the time and won't fumble in the red zone, as most will be in the ACC, Maryland's going to need something better than what they had yesterday.
And they may get something better, for one of two reasons. The first is that maybe, just maybe, it's unfair to go judging Jamarr Robinson and Maryland's passing attack after just five attempts. Now, the fact that they only took five attempts is a bit of an indictment in and of itself, but they could just be keeping vanilla. Or, of course, it could be a fluke.
The other option is that maybe Jamarr Robinson won't be the starter come ACC play. Here's where the whole Danny O'Brien thing comes in. Maryland's offense was just about as dead as it could get when O'Brien entered the game. Entering in the fourth quarter in a tie game with the ball on the Navy 16 in need of points probably wasn't a great idea, but the fact that Ralph Friedgen put him in there says something. If you listen to Friedgen and Robinson, the move was determined in advance, probably in order to get O'Brien some game experience.
If you listen to Friedgen and Robinson, you're also probably wrong.
Friedgen makes some dumb decisions, no doubt about it, but the man himself isn't dumb. And that type of decision - throwing in a player to get game experience in a crucial situation - is beyond him. It's beyond anyone, really. I don't care if you have a three year-old as coach, they know not to do that. It's akin to putting in the backup kicker for a game-winning 30-yard field goal.
No, there's really only one plausible reason this happened: Friedgen and Franklin wanted someone else in at QB. Robinson had been might unimpressive up to that point, and O'Brien was a different option. I absolutely refuse to believe that this was anything other than a replacement decision, even if only in testing the waters. They wanted to see what O'Brien did, and he fumbled. After that, they decided he might not be the guy for this type of situation.
But those types of feelings die hard. O'Brien will be looming large the rest of the season unless Robinson can prove his arm, both in the fans' and coaches' minds. After all, Friedgen and Franklin have no margin for error. And if Robinson doesn't, O'Brien will probably get his shot before the season's halfway-done.
It's not a prediction, nor a request. But watch out; the first move has been made already, and that's usually the hardest one.