Shawn Petty looks like a linebacker. The Terrapins starting quarterback on Saturday against Georgia Tech was wearing number 31, a sight that took many a while to get used to. Including the quarterback himself, who struggled mightily to start the game. Head Coach Randy Edsall said that at the beginning of the game, and reiterated that Petty just needed time to adjust to the speed of the game.
“You just have to get used to the speed of the game, that’s the biggest difference in playing my first college game and I had been playing linebacker before this.” Petty said when asked about how he thought he played, he continued, “It was just the speed of the game was a lot faster, but once I calmed that’s when I played faster and let the game come to me.”
Petty admittedly struggled in the first half, but that didn’t seem to bother Edsall, who took some positives away from the performance. Edsall mentioned how Petty only had seven practices behind center since converting from linebacker, and given the time he thought he could get better.
“Once he got settled in and we saw what we could do with him we saw his poise.” Edsall added, “The thing is, he’s coachable. I told Mike [Locksley] coming off the field ‘We know what we can do with him.'”
That will be one key moving forward, what exactly Petty can handle in the playbook and what he cannot. Petty said after the game that he was more comfortable with a zone-read or option offense. And while the coaching staff can’t fully commit to a Georgia Tech-style triple-option they did want to work in passes for the kid to get loose early on. Petty said himself they wanted to throw Georgia Tech off by throwing on their first offensive play.
Coach Edsall was asked after the game about Petty’s passing and how many plays they had ready for him, he responded “Well, we used too many.”
Although, in the second half it seemed that whenever he threw the ball in Stefon Diggs direction, good things happened. “He makes it a lot easier. You give him the ball and he makes you look good.” Petty said after the game.
To be fair to Petty, the defense, not him, cost the team the game. A defense that had been stout against the run, ranking third nationally in yards per carry wilted against the triple-option. The defense gave up 370 yards on the ground and had their top four rushers all average over 5.0 yards per carry.
In a cruel twist of fate, the Terrapins lost their quarterback on defense in Demetrius Hartsfield during the game — not before racking up 9 tackles in less than a half of football. However, after the game Hartsfield tweeted out to his followers that he was okay. We don’t know to what extent, and given how injuries have gone this year, we cannot rule out anything.
Missing Hartsfield was big, but the defense did struggle. Coach Edsall took most of the blame for that, saying he and the coaching staff under-prepared for the triple-option.
“We didn’t do our jobs as coaches to prepare for that toss sweep… we couldn’t shut that play down.” Edsall said about the play that twice victimized the Terrapins for touchdowns.
On the flip side, Maryland couldn’t get anything going on the ground, even in their “Wild Crab” formation. The formation came out when Petty was injured in the second quarter with a – still – unspecified injury, which saw running back Wes Brown in shotgun running the wildcat.
“We nicknamed that package ourselves as the ‘Wild Crab.’ Being Maryland, rather than the wildcat, [we have] the wild crab.” Edsall joked about it, but continued to say “I thought it was productive for us… we had to find some things to take the pressure off of Shawn [Petty] in there. I think Wes [Brown] had an ankle [injury], we will see how he is tomorrow and Monday and go from there.”
Maryland’s schedule doesn’t get any easier from here, and the team has a lot to prepare for down the stretch, which includes game against Clemson, Florida State and North Carolina. A victory in any of those games would be a huge surprise, but at this point, the Terps would be happy to avoid any other major injuries.
“We just hope we can keep him [Shawn Petty] healthy for the next three weeks.” Edsall ended his press conference with that chilling line. A sad reality, that the final three weeks come down to the arm of a linebacker, and if he goes down, a walk-on tight end.
For more on Maryland, follow Brendan Darr on twitter: @BrendanDarr