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November 20, 2013

Terps on emotional high after win

What a difference seven days can make.

A week ago, Randy Edsall was a man without answers in the wake of an embarrassing 20-3 loss to Syracuse. His beleaguered quarterback, senior C.J. Brown, had turned the ball over three times against the Orange. His roster was bruised and battered.

Then he took that ragtag bunch to vaunted Blacksburg - down two more wideouts and starting his third left tackle in three games - and stunned a Virginia Tech team with ACC title aspirations after they took down then-No. 11 Miami the week prior.

There hasn't been a ton for Edsall to cheer about so far in his two-plus years in College Park, so the Terps coach made sure he left it all out on the field on Saturday. When Brown's outstretched arm connected football with pylon in overtime, Edsall took off towards his quarterback, arms raised and smiling from ear to ear.

"I didn't really do much during the day," Edsall said, holding back a grin. "I felt like I needed to get some exercise at the end, so I felt like I would have a little bit of fun. Sometimes I show my emotions in different ways. I was just very happy for my kids in terms of what we were able to do."

All of a sudden, the Terps are 6-4, bowl eligible for the first time under Edsall and staring at two winnable games to close out their regular season, starting with Boston College on Saturday. Perhaps most important, however, is that they have what looks like their starting signal caller back.

"I think that C.J. was the healthiest he's been since the Florida State game and 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," Edsall said.

With the formidable defense of the Hokies playing man coverage most of the day, Brown was able to make things happen on the ground for the Terps. He racked up 122 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries, the first time he eclipsed the century mark since September 14 at UConn. All of his big runs came on broken plays, but with a patchwork offensive line and second-string weapons, it was just what Maryland needed.

"It's definitely spur of the moment," Brown said. "Not too many designed runs or the option, anything like that. A lot of that was the drop-back passes, them dropping into man coverage, our guys getting covered. With that said, they're turning and running so they don't see what's going on. If I can break a tackle, it's off to the races."

Brown hadn't looked right since he was concussed in the Florida State game. He returned against Wake Forest but left early in the second half. He made it through the entire bout with Syracuse, but that guy didn't look much like the one that carved up the Hokies on their turf on Saturday.

"It feels good," the senior said. "Especially coming off a win like that - to perform and come out with that win in that fashion was exciting. I feel very confident. I think I was always confident, it was just a matter if I could go out there and execute it physically the way I knew I could. I feel one hundred percent, back to normal, and I'm ready to go this week."

Boston College presents a new challenge for Brown and the Terps. The Eagles have an aggressive defense run by former Maryland defensive coordinator and blitz-master Don Brown. Their offense features stud running back Andre Williams, who is on track for 2,000 yards and deserves some Heisman Trophy consideration, according to Edsall.

"He's a very good back and has got the ability to bend and run you over," Edsall said. "You're not going to wrap your arms around this guy. You've got to put your shoulder into him and run your feet. You need more than one person there. He's very impressive on tape."

"He wears you out," said Terps' defensive coordinator Brian Stewart. "If you look at tape, you see that the same guys tackling him early are the same guys missing and getting ran over late. He just gets stronger as the game goes on and you get tired hitting a big body."

With that elusive sixth win finally under their belt, Maryland will look to win consecutive games for the first time since September on Senior Day at Byrd Stadium this Saturday. Did they turn an emotional corner? Maybe. Were they excited? Definitely. But Edsall has been here before while most his players have not, so he was sure to make one message clear to his players: Six wins just makes you eligible.

"You're still not guaranteed anything," Brown said. "We've got two more. Eight is ideal, but we got to concentrate on going out getting number seven."


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