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COLLEGE PARK, Md. Just hours removed from a failed second-half comeback attempt, Danny O’Brien was in the film room, analyzing game film.
He watched the tape three times, and again on Sunday morning. He already knew what the mistakes were, though; he just wanted to confirm them.
O’Brien threw three interceptions against West Virginia on Saturday, including one returned for a touchdown in the opening quarter that propelled the Mountaineers to a 14-3 lead.
The last came on a third-and-eight with under a minute and a half left on the clock, the Terrapins trailing by six points. Eain Smith snared O’Brien’s pass at his own 13-yard-line, sealing the West Virginia win.
“I just didn’t play up to the level I need to,” O’Brien said during Tuesday’s press conference. “If you want to find out who your friends are, throw three picks in a game.
O’Brien hasn’t thrown three interceptions in nearly a year, since his third career start in Death Valley against Clemson. He’s thrown two interceptions just once in that span.
But with his team trailing early, O’Brien put the weight of the offense on his shoulders. Usually an accurate passer, perhaps an overconfident O’Brien was to blame for his subpar performance.
“Danny’s a victim of his own circumstance sometimes, where he’s got so much confidence in his own ability, that there’s going to be times where he might throw a ball into a very tight window when maybe he shouldn’t,” Maryland head coach Randy Edsall said. “The great ones end up going out there and they see everything and what they do is they just take what the defense will give them.”
Now O’Brien will try to bounce back against a tenacious Temple defense. Ranked fourth in the nation in points allowed per game (eight), the Owls have limited opposing offenses to 284 yards per game (22nd in the nation).
But a defense that has given up just two offensive touchdowns will face a signal-caller who leads the country in completions (32.5) and the ACC in passing yards per game (318.5), and in just 12 starts became just the 15th quarterback in school history to surpass 3,000 yards.
It’s no wonder why his teammates seem unfazed by one poor outing.
“Danny O’Brien can throw 10 picks one week and he’s still my guy. He’s still the guy I want behind me,” offensive lineman R.J. Dill said. “Two-minute drill, game’s on the line, he’s still the guy back there. I don’t care what happens. He’s done it time and time again. He’s still won us 10 times more games than he’s lost us.”
Kerry Boykins, who watched O’Brien in the film room before and after the team’s weight lifting session Sunday, said he saw a look of determination in his quarterback’s eyes.
He said he looked focused, that O’Brien is one of the most confident people he knows.
“I know he’s going to be bounce back; he always does.”