Maryland faces uncertainty at QB against No. 21 Michigan
COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) — The quarterback carousel at Maryland keeps churning round and round, and again this week there is uncertainty about who will be on board when it stops.
Former third-stringer Max Bortenschlager is recovering from a jarring hit that took him out of last week’s 31-24 loss to Rutgers. Ryan Brand made his debut in that game, and this Saturday, against No. 21 Michigan, the sophomore could become the Terrapins’ fourth different starter this season.
“Nothing definitive yet. Probably a game-time decision,” coach DJ Durkin said Tuesday. “It’s nothing we haven’t been through before.”
The quarterback shuffle began in the first game of the year, when Tyrrell Pigrome tore his ACL against Texas. Two weeks later, Kasim Hill’s season ended with a knee injury, opening the door for Bortenschlager to take control of the offense.
Bortenschlager exited with a concussion in a loss to Ohio State in the fifth game of the year, but he recovered in time to face Northwestern the following week. He fared well until last Saturday, when he hurt either his head or shoulder — Durkin isn’t saying which — during a third-down run.
Brand, who still isn’t listed on the two-deep depth chart, entered for Maryland’s final possession. He deftly led a 16-play drive that ended with an incomplete pass in the end zone, only after he had a touchdown throw called back because of holding.
Brand went 8 for 12 for 68 yards. Just as impressive: his poise in the huddle.
“Once he came in he was calm. We put a good drive together,” Terrapins receiver DJ Moore said. “We just didn’t finish out the game the way we wanted to.”
Should Brand be called upon against Michigan (7-2, 5-1 Big Ten), the former walk-on almost certainly will be up to the task.
“That’s a guy who prepares the right way,” Durkin said. “He’s a leader, very mature.”
Despite using five quarterbacks — Caleb Henderson has seen action, too — the Terrapins (4-5, 2-4) have remained competitive. Moore is one of the best receivers in the conference and Ty Johnson is the star of a rushing attack that averages 4.5 yards per carry.
But with three games left — all against ranked teams — Maryland has very little chance of receiving a bowl bid in Durkin’s second season. If there was consistency at quarterback, who knows how this year might have gone?
“There’s a lot of frustration. Not just on my part, but coaches and players alike,” Durkin said. “We’ve played at a high level at a lot of positions, but with constant injury or turnover at that position, it makes it more difficult than it could be or should be or would be if we didn’t have that.”
Not that he spends countless hours lamenting the situation.
“It’s part of the game. It’s nothing we can control,” Durkin said. “We spend zero time talking about it. It is what it is. When someone goes down, the next guy’s got to go in and perform at a high level.”