C.J. Brown has struggled immensely as Maryland's quarterback this season, and Randy Edsall signaled for the first time this week that he would consider replacing the sixth-year senior if those problems persist. But any switch to backup Perry Hills or Shane Cockerille will not come easily for the Terrapins' head coach.
"I don't want to make a quarterback change, and I said that. I really don't want to do that," Edsall said. "But if a situation would call for that, then you have to be able to make that decision. And when you make those decisions, you've got to say, ‘OK, can the person that you're going to put in come in and do a better job than the guy that you're taking out?'"
When the Terps (6-4, 3-3 Big Ten) visit Michigan (5-5, 3-3) at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Brown is expected to start.
Edsall, asked how Cockerille and Hills had performed in practice this week, only said they've looked "fine." (He did not say whether any of his quarterbacks would have the services of receiver Stefon Diggs, eligible to return this week from a suspension but dealing with a widely suspected kidney laceration.)
Hills and Cockerille have split the practice repetitions with the Terps' second team.
"If we had to put one of those guys in there, I have confidence that they'll go in and do the best job that they're capable of doing," Edsall said.
Brown is working hard, but results haven't come. He has thrown 9 interceptions against his 11 touchdowns for fewer than 200 yards per game, and he's hovered around a 50 percent completion percentage for weeks. Defenses have clued in and diverted numbers to virtually shut down Maryland's running game. Brown knows this, but he's not calling his last season quits – and with a strong finish, he could still steward Maryland to as many as nine wins and a quality bowl berth. Still, he clearly understand the pressure that's on him as he heads into his final few collegiate games.
"I understand that. It comes with the position," Brown said. "If you're not going to produce, they're going to bring in someone else that will, and they've done it other positions. I'm just another guy on the team, and I understand that I've got to produce."
Monroe closes in on sack record
Defensive end Andre Monroe's sack against Michigan State moved him past Shawne Merriman and into sole possession of second place on the university's all-time sacks list. His 23 career quarterback takedowns are one fewer than the all-time mark still held by Mike Corvino, whose last season was 1982.
Given his recent track record, Monroe probably has a better-than-even chance at tying and passing Corvino in the next two weeks. But Monroe said the record wasn't at the forefront of his mind.
"I think about it from time to time," Monroe said. "But I don't really try to focus on that, because I want to win games with my teammates, and I know if we all just focus on winning and doing what we've got to do to win, that'll all just take care of itself."
By all accounts, it has not been a popular topic of locker room conversation. Linebacker L.A. Goree, like Monroe a Prince George's County native, wasn't even aware his teammate was closing in on the record, but he said he was proud of his 5-foot-11 defensive end.
"I like it most that he surprised everybody, because when you see Andre, you don't see the big, brawler defensive lineman that you usually see," Goree said. "He usually gets underestimated because of his size, but you're about to tie the career sack record, the work speaks for itself."
Davis expects to play cornerback again
While Jeremiah Johnson has nursed a wonky hamstring, Maryland safety Sean Davis has mostly played cornerback in the Terps' last two games. That's the plan again for Saturday, when Michigan receiver Devin Funchess will attack the Maryland secondary in Ann Arbor. Working often against Michigan State star Tony Lippett last week, Davis helped hold him to just four catches.
"I knew the basic coverages, but where it got down to a technique point, I guess I wasn't as sharp as I wanted to be," Davis said.
Edsall said Davis was able to make a smooth transition from safety to cornerback because of his athleticism.
"When you just take a look at his skill set that he has, we felt that putting him there was the best move for us as a team. He's done well there. He's picked it up and done a really good job."
Davis, a junior, was non-committal when asked if cornerback – a position he played occasionally in high school – might become a long-term spot for him in College Park.
"I came here to play safety. I'm doing what's best for the team right now, so we'll just take it week by week, and at the end of the season we'll just sit down and talk about it," Davis said. "If I have to play corner, I'd like to and it would be fun. If I have to play safety, it would be fun as well."