COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Maryland made a switch at quarterback last week in large part to invigorate a lagging passing attack.
For one game, at least, it made a noticeable difference — one the Terrapins hope to maintain as they delve into a tough stretch of the schedule.
Junior Caleb Rowe threw for 297 yards, four touchdowns and three interceptions in Maryland's 35-17 defeat of South Florida on Saturday. Things get considerably more difficult Saturday, when the Terps (2-1) visit West Virginia (2-0) in their first road game of the season.
"I thought we were very much improved in the passing game, but we still have things we have to work on to continue to get better," coach Randy Edsall said Tuesday. "We made the move to Caleb to accomplish what we were able to accomplish in terms of getting the ball down the field a little bit more and understanding we have to be able to throw the ball effectively and efficiently. Now what we have to do is clean some things up."
Edsall is a Susquehannock High School graduate.
Another three-turnover day would be disheartening for Maryland, which has lost four in a row at West Virginia. Nonetheless, the emergence of Rowe and some younger receiving options provides hope the Terrapins can maintain a balanced offense not only in their nonconference finale, but also when it begins Big Ten play against Michigan and Ohio State in the following two weeks.
Rowe fell just shy of Maryland's first 300-yard passing day since he threw for 332 yards against Virginia in 2013. He also became the first Maryland quarterback to throw four touchdowns in a game since Danny O'Brien did it in the 2010 regular-season finale against N.C. State.
"We were able to get all our receivers touches with the ball," freshman receiver D.J. Moore said. "We had Caleb giving us chances down the field to make plays."
Moore had three catches for a career-best 47 yards against South Florida while making his first career start. The game also marked the emergence of freshman tight end Avery Edwards, who had his first two career touchdown receptions among his three catches. He was the first Maryland tight end to score two touchdowns in one game since Matt Furstenburg against Clemson in 2011.
Edwards has six catches for 56 yards in three games, compared to the six receptions for 41 yards and a score that Maryland got from its tight ends all of last year. He, like Moore and Rowe, provides an element of stability to the team's air attack.
"Last week, we definitely made a bunch of plays in the passing game," Edwards said. "I don't know how much it has to do with changing quarterbacks, but we definitely had a good flow in that game."
All the elements for moving the ball through the air are seemingly in place.
"We have some weapons there that we can get the ball to," Edsall said. "Caleb has the arm to be able to do that and there's guys there who can make the plays if they get the ball."
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