Maryland QB quandary among facets of ineffective offense
COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) — Maryland coach DJ Durkin is delving deep into the playbook and combing the depth chart in an effort to improve an unproductive offense.
Before he gets too absorbed in that process, the second-year coach must first determine who will start at quarterback Saturday in a Big Ten matchup with visiting Northwestern.
Max Bortenschlager took a hit to the head last weekend at Ohio State and is still in recovery mode. If he can’t go, North Carolina transfer Caleb Henderson will become the Terrapins’ fourth different starter in six games.
“Max is a tough kid. If anyone can respond the right way to any sort of injury, it would be Max,” Durkin said Tuesday. “We’ll keep evaluating him as we go through the week and see where we’re at.”
Bortenschlager got his first start on Sept. 30 against Minnesota after starters Tyrrell Pigrome, then Kasim Hill, were lost for the season with knee injuries.
Bortenschlager engineered a win against the Golden Gophers , but was ineffective in a 62-14 loss to the Buckeyes before leaving late in the third quarter. Making his debut with Maryland, Henderson went 0 for 1 passing and was sacked once.
While the quarterback position remains up in the air, this much is certain: Maryland’s offense is in dire need of an overhaul.
The Terps’ rank 121st in passing yards among Football Bowl Subdivision teams, 126th in third-down percentage and 107th in total offense.
Against the Buckeyes, Maryland completed only three passes, totaled 66 yards in offense and got six first downs.
“A lot of things happened in that game that culminated in obviously a lackluster performance,” Durkin said.
So, what now?
“We’re looking into what we can scheme-wise differently, what we can do personnel-wise differently,” Durkin said. “All those things are on the table.”
The unit has plenty of talent — most notably D.J. Moore (32 catches, 414 yards, 5 TDs) and Ty Johnson (8.1 yards per carry, 4 TDs) — but lacks consistency at quarterback.
“We still have a very talented offense, I believe,” Durkin said. “You look at running back, receiver, offensive line. There are a lot of really good players. We’ve got to do a better job of putting them in position to be successful.”
The Terrapins (3-2, 1-1) hope to get back on track against Northwestern (2-3, 0-2). But first they’ve got to put that Ohio State embarrassment behind them.
“It kills you when you get beat as bad as we did last weekend,” running back Jake Funk said. “But you have to get over it, because if you let it linger it’s just going to effect the next week. We got our butt kicked, and we just have to move on to Northwestern.”
And if Henderson is the quarterback, then the offense will just have to adjust.
“It’s been tough, obviously, losing three quarterbacks in the first five games,” Funk said. “But it’s the next man up. If that’s Caleb this week, we have to be behind him because he’s the guy.”