COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) In his first start of the season at quarterback for Maryland, Caleb Rowe has made protecting the football his No. 1 priority.
Operating in relief of an ineffective Perry Hills last week against Bowling Green, Rowe threw three passes - two of which were intercepted. In fairness to Rowe, the Terrapins were in catch-up mode and forced to pass.
''It was a hard situation but I have to be smart with the football,'' Rowe acknowledged. ''That's my job and I didn't do my job very well.''
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In spite of that, Rowe was elevated to the top of the depth chart, and his task Saturday against South Florida is to help the Terrapins rebound from that ugly 48-27 defeat
''I'm given another opportunity to go out and play football and help my team win,'' he said. ''I'm not worried about last week. I'm worried about South Florida.''
In addition to avoiding interceptions, Rowe must generate enough points to offset a defense that last week yielded 692 yards and six touchdown passes.
The Terrapins (1-1) will be going up against an offense that scored 51 points against Florida A&M and totaled 149 yards rushing in a 34-14 defeat at Florida State last week.
Marlon Mack ran for 83 yards and Quinton Flowers threw for two scores against the Seminoles, who pulled out of a 7-7 tie at halftime.
''We can play with the best of them,'' South Florida coach Willie Taggart said. ''We've just got to do if for four quarters.''
Maryland's task on defense is to ''eliminate the big plays, stop the run, and get off of the field on third down,'' coordinator Keith Dudzinski said.
The Terrapins did none of those things last week.
Some things to know about the Maryland-South Florida game:
ABOUT LAST YEAR: The Bulls and Terrapins met for the first time last season, and Maryland was fortunate to escape with a 24-17 victory. SFU led 17-14 in the fourth quarter before the Terps scored a touchdown on a blocked punt. South Florida forced six turnovers and Mack ran for 73 yards on 22 carries.
OFFENSIVE SHUFFLE: Maryland coach Randy Edsall didn't stop at merely changing his starting quarterback. He also subbed out two of his wide receivers, setting up D.J. Moore for his first career start and Taivon Jacobs for his first start since last year's opener, when he sustained a season-ending knee injury. Jacobs is the brother of Levern Jacobs, the only receiver to retain his starting job. Levern caught three passes for 32 yards and a touchdown against Bowling Green.
WELCOME BACK: South Florida linebackers Nigel Harris and Tashon Whitehurst will get their first action after serving two-game suspensions for violating team rules in the spring. Harris, a junior, led the nation with six forced fumbles in 2014. Whitehurst, a senior, brings experience to the unit. Their return coincides with the absence of linebacker Auggie Sanchez, who will miss the first half after being ejected for targeting last week.
POISED TO REBOUND: Maryland went 4-0 in the regular season last year when coming off a loss. Beating South Florida is particularly important because the next four teams on the Terrapins' schedule are: West Virginia, Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State.
LIKELY TO AVOID LIKELY: The Bulls would be wise to avoid punting the ball to Maryland playmaker Will Likely, who is averaging 31.5 yards per return and has scored touchdowns in successive games. ''We'll likely not kick it to him,'' Taggart said. ''He's a football player, there's no question. We have much respect for him and what he's done.''