COLLEGE PARK -- The last time Caleb Rowe was under center for Maryland it was against a nationally ranked Clemson team and starter C.J. Brown was on the sidelines after having gotten popped in the mouth against eventual national champion Florida State a few weeks earlier.
There was no injury to Brown on Saturday, but the sixth-year senior was held out of the team’s intra-squad scrimmage and Rowe was given the start at Byrd Stadium.
“I just wanted to be able to take a look at different guys,” head coach Randy Edsall said after the scrimmage. “I wanted to put him out there with the ones and get him some work and let him know that he’s one play away from having to go in and play and when you are, then you’ve got to go out and perform.”
Rowe had his moments, including a 28-yard pass to wide receiver Taivon Jacobs, who then split two safeties and brought it in for the touchdown.
But he also had his downs, namely an interception by safety Sean Davis on the offense’s opening drive and a pick-six later in the game courtesy of Jeremiah Johnson.
“I thought Caleb was very inconsistent today,” Edsall said. “Didn’t think he made a lot of good decisions out there … I don’t think he performed up to his capabilities today and hopefully he’ll learn from it.”
“Coach is right, you know,” Rowe said. “It’s just a little inconsistent but that just comes with reps. I mean I didn’t really know I was going with the first team until yesterday or today so it just comes with more reps.”
Rowe started four games last season as Brown battled injury and appeared in two more as relief during early season blowouts.
He finished with 989 yards, five touchdowns, and three interceptions while completing 48.9 percent of his passes.
Brown is the unquestioned starter and by sitting him out he avoids the risk of injury that has so plagued Maryland at quarterback the last two seasons. But it’s also another chance for the backup, who showed flashes during his stint last season, to stand in.
“Still a little young,” Rowe said, referring to himself. “You know, I haven’t gotten as much playing time as C.J. He runs it well, so I feel like it just comes with more experience.”
Barring injury, Rowe won’t see much time this year, but next year he is likely to take the reins of the offense from Brown.
“Barring injury” being the key.