The Maryland football team has a new quarterback in onetime Oklahoma State starter Daxx Garman. For a program starved of above-average QB play for generations – a stretch that will end in a a year or two anyway – Garman's arrival is certainly noteworthy. But for the 2015 Terrapins, if it changes much at all, something will have gone wrong.
Presumptive starter Caleb Rowe, a rising redshirt junior, has been rehabbing an ACL tear from last season, which held him out of spring practice and gave the interim keys to Maryland's offense to backups Shane Cockerille and Perry Hills. Garman is probably a more polished option for his graduate season than any of Maryland's other backups, but probably not better-suited to lead Maryland than Rowe. The reasons for that are both statistical and developmental.
If a Maryland fan tells you he or she has regularly watched Garman play, that person is probably lying. The vast majority of what we have to evaluate of Garman comes from his stats over nine games – including eight starts – before he lost his role as Oklahoma State's starting quarterback last season. The numbers suggest Garman is a quality backup option for Rowe, barring continued injury troubles for Rowe or a drastic improvement by Garman. Their career stats:
|Quarterback||Games||Career Passes Thrown||Completion Percentage||Yards Per Attempt||Touchdowns||Interceptions||Passer Rating|
Rowe and Garman's career numbers aren't especially different from one another on the surface. In fact, they've been almost identical in each of the major passing metrics selected here, with Rowe incrementally better by most indices.
But look deeper, and Rowe is clearly Maryland's most attractive starting option. For one thing, Garman had two redshirt years to do nothing but develop – one at Arizona, then another at Oklahoma State after transferring to Stillwater before the 2012 season. He didn't play a down in 2013, either, meaning he had a full two years to improve and learn Mike Gundy's playbook before he ever took a snap under center for the Cowboys. When he did, the results weren't excellent.
Rowe's numbers are only marginally better than Garman's, but they've come amid far more challenging circumstances. Maryland's offensive lines have mostly been brutal in the three seasons he's appeared, and Maryland's best pass-catchers have missed big chunks of each of the last two seasons. Rowe has never gotten extended first-team practice repetitions in season like Garman did last year with Oklahoma State, and he had to play far sooner, but his statistics are still superior. It's also worth noting Garman played in a more QB-friendly offensive system in a conference with a significantly higher scoring average.
In albeit limited playing time behind C.J. Brown last year, Rowe went 34-of-54 (63 percent) and threw for 9.1 yards per attempt. He threw five touchdowns against four interceptions, but three of those interceptions were the result of faulty work by receivers against ball-hawking Ohio State (25 interceptions, fourth-best in the country) last Oct. 4. Really, Rowe was quite good in the limited time he saw. Here he is compared to Garman in 2014 alone:
|Quarterback||Games||2014 Passes Thrown||Completion Percentage||Yards Per Attempt||Touchdowns||Interceptions||Passer Rating|
There's more reason for Rowe to play, too. Because he received a medical redshirt for ailments that have cut short two of his three seasons, he'll have another year to grow after this year, before the Dwayne Haskins Experience fully takes flight in College Park. Rowe could certainly start both next season and then again in 2016, allowing Haskins redshirt and leaving Rowe as an experienced starter by the end of his career.
Maryland has been quarterback-deprived for a long while now, so the concept of a former Big 12 starter joining the program and sliding into a leading role is enough to raise an eyebrow. Garman should indeed help the Terps, but if Randy Edsall and Mike Locksley get the outcome they're probably hoping for, he'll help them as depth and much-needed security.