Healthy CJ Brown 'had that feeling back' vs. Virginia Tech

Healthy CJ Brown 'had that feeling back' vs. Virginia Tech
November 20, 2013, 11:00 am
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Randy Edsall reacts to the Terps becoming bowl eligible

COLLEGE PARK--Things weren’t the same for a while, ever since Florida State defensive lineman Jacobbi McDaniel drove his body in C.J. Brown’s chest in Week 6, sending him crumpling to the ground, his facemask in a freefall before colliding violently with the turf.

That hit would leave Brown concussed and force him to miss the team’s following game against Virginia. Upon his return the week after, he was pulled at halftime in Maryland’s loss to Wake Forest after being roughed up in the first 30 minutes. He missed the following week vs. Clemson and was still not the same in a loss to Syracuse.

But the early season magic was finally back on Saturday against Virginia Tech when he tied a season high in rushing yards with 122, including a three-yard scramble for a touchdown in overtime that secured the win and clinched bowl eligibility for the Terrapins.

“I think that C.J. was the healthiest he’s been since the Florida State game,” coach Randy Edsall said on Tuesday. “Again, you talk about confidence, he had more confidence in his own ability to be able to run and do the things that he knows he’s capable of doing.”

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The designed run in Maryland’s zone read option wasn’t what was effective. It was actually off of the broken play, the scramble, where Brown gained most of his yards including the game-winner in overtime.

As Virginia Tech settled into man coverage, Brown read the defense and took off when he saw gaps.

“I think that I definitely felt a lot healthier than I had been in the past and I think it showed out there on the field,” Brown said on Tuesday, reflecting on weeks past.

“I think that, you know, mentally I was there, but to go out there and not be able to do the things that you know you’re capable of doing, it’s just frustrating.”

In games like against Wake Forest when he was harassed by opposing defensive lines, the effectiveness of the zone read that we had seen through the first four weeks appeared to be gone. Something wasn’t right.

“I’ve made the play a million times and to go out there and it’s the same thing and to get tackled by a D-end it’s just like, OK,” Brown said with the look of annoyance that he felt during those weeks.

[RELATED: Battle over Maryland's ACC exit fee continues]

But had Brown not been able to make plays with his legs against Virginia Tech, Maryland would likely still be stuck at six wins and not yet be bowl eligible. With a receiving corps decimated by injuries, Brown’s ability to run the ball opened up the pass plays that the Terrapins were able to scrap together.

“I went up to him early there probably in the first quarter and I said, ‘Hey, don’t hesitate now to just take off with the ball when you go back there,’” Edsall recalls, citing Brown’s confidence as another driving force on Saturday.

“Like I said, he had that back. He had that feeling back in his body, in his legs and everything else.”

Maryland looks to improve its bowl position on Saturday against Boston College. Kickoff is at 3:30 p.m. and will be broadcast on Comcast SportsNet.