When I was learning how to drive, my father used to tell me the key was to expect the unexpected.
He was absolutely right. Trying to predict what another driver is going to do is nearly impossible. Instead, you have prepare for everything.
***Photo via James A. Parcell/Washington Post
Petty, who rocks a No. 31 jersey, will probably be the first quarterback — I would guess — to wear a number above 19 and start under center for Maryland, possibly any other team in the nation.
For the third time in the past three games, it'll be an unfamiliar face taking snaps at quarterback for the team. Petty, who ran the option at Eleanor Roosevelt High School (Md.), is listed at 6-foot-1 and 230 pounds.
So, I guess it's like Tim Tebow. Right?
Petty is the fourth different quarterback to start this year. Former ACC Rookie of the Year Danny O'Brien transferred to Wisconsin in the off-season due to conflicts with head coach Randy Edsall; he is now the Badgers' back-up.
Incumbent C.J. Brown tore his ACL in the pre-season, and Perry Hills, the true freshmen who started the first six contests for the Terps, followed suit and suffered the same injury in an Oct. 20 bout with N.C. State in front of the homecoming crowd.
In Hills' place, Devin Burns, a redshirt sophomore who converted to wide receiver last year, came in for relief. Soon after, he suffered an injury, leading to the next man up, Caleb Rowe, to get the nod v. Boston College.
Another true freshman, Rowe was diagnosed a torn ACL after the loss to the Eagles.
With no other option at quarterback on the roster, Edsall was forced to think outside the box. Then, after he looked outside the box and found nothing, he decided to start his reserve linebacker.
Petty threw for 1,300 yards and 15 touchdowns, and added another 550 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground during his tenure with Eleanor Roosevelt.
But what Petty brings to the position is the element of surprise — just like learning how to drive.
You don't know how others will act or react; you don't know what Petty will do to make plays or how defenses will attempt to stifle him.
There is no college tape of Petty to prepare for him. Georgia Tech, allowing 30 points per game, owns the No. 73 defense in the country.
Having difficulty stopping the likes of the ACC elite like Virginia Tech's Logan Thomas or Florida State's E.J. Manuel is an arduous task for any defense; but at least there's film of them. They know they can run or pass.
Petty has no choice but to run or pass; but there are NO tendencies and no speculation as to how offensive coordinator Mike Locksley will take advantage of his athleticism or how players such as Stefon Diggs or Wes Brown will be used to mask any offensive deficiencies.
The element of surprise works to the Terps' favor today. Petty needs to take advantage of it, and if he's successful in Game 1, he'll make the team bowl-eligible following their 2-win campaign in 2011.
The stakes are high. The questions are abundant. And the game is anybody's.
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