Maryland quarterback C.J. Brown will miss the entire 2012 season with a knee injury, a severe blow to a team that now must rely on two untested freshmen to run the offense.
Brown, a redshirt junior, tore his right ACL during a non-contract practice session Tuesday night.
“We were running a two-minute drill. He broke through the pocket, was running downfield and went to make a cut,” coach Randy Edsall said Wednesday. “It’s a cut he’s made a thousand times. It just so happens this time his knee didn’t hold up.”
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Brown took over as the starter last year for Danny O’Brien, who transferred after the 2011 season. Brown led the Terps with five rushing touchdowns and ran for 647 yards.
The 6-foot-3, 205-pounder was supposed to be a key component in Maryland’s bid to bounce back from a 2-10 season. But now, in Edsall’s second year at the school, the Terrapins must rely on true freshmen Perry Hillis and Caleb Rowe to play quarterback.
“We have to move forward,” Edsall said. “Perry will be working the 1s today; Caleb will be with the 2s. Everybody has to be ready to go because injuries are part of the game.”
Brown missed the last 10 games of the 2010 season with a shoulder injury, but at that point in his career he was merely a backup. He was second on the depth chart behind O’Brien last summer, and this year he was preparing for the first time to start for the entire season.
“I’m very, very devastated for C.J. because I watched him put in all this hard work to get this opportunity to be the starting quarterback at the University of Maryland,” Edsall said. “To see it go away just with one cut is heartbreaking.”
It’s now up to Hillis and Rowe to make the offense work.
“That was one of the reasons I recruited them to be here,” Edsall said. “We felt that they were outstanding football players that would have the opportunity at some point in their career to help win football games. It just so happens that opportunity is going to come in their freshman year.”
Edsall always knew that Brown’s ability to run out of the pocket made him susceptible to injury.
“We knew coming into the season with C.J. being there we had to get both of these guys ready to play,” Edsall said. “Our mindset was that we’ve got to start from the very first day and get both of them prepared to play a game in case an injury situation would come up.”