“It’s part of the game, unfortunately,” Durkin said. “When it happens at the same position, that makes things a little tougher. But it’s part of life and a great way to learn.”
Maryland (2-1) is expected to start Max Bortenschlager on Saturday for its Big Ten opener at Minnesota. It will mark the third straight year and fourth time in six years that Maryland has started three or more quarterbacks in a season. The Terrapins have had five players start at the position in the last two years.
Hill is expected to have surgery once the swelling in his right knee subsides and will be eligible for a medical redshirt, according to school spokesman Dustin Semonavick.
It appeared that Maryland had developed solid depth at the position as it opened training camp in August, but attrition has quickly thinned the ranks. In addition to Hill and Pigrome, redshirt junior Caleb Henderson is still working his way back from a lingering foot issue that curtailed much of his fall camp.
Durkin said Henderson will be ready for Saturday’s game at Minnesota.
The loss of Pigrome and Hill within the first month is somewhat reminiscent of 2012, when Maryland lost four quarterbacks to season-ending injuries and had to turn to freshman linebacker Shawn Petty to start the final four games of the season. While the present situation is not that dire, it does resemble the track of the past two seasons under center: In 2015, Maryland had four quarterbacks throw 18 or more passes; in 2016, it had four quarterbacks throw 33 or more passes.
Bortenschlager, who relieved Hill against UCF and finished just 15 for 26 for 132 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions, appears to be the only fully healthy scholarship quarterback on the roster.
“Max is a tough kid. He went into a tough spot. I thought it was a gutsy performance. It wasn’t perfect, but who would expect it to be?” Durkin said. “Max has confidence in himself, and we have confidence in him. Now having a full week to prepare and practice, we can tailor the game plan to him as opposed to someone else.”
Alongside Henderson, Maryland also has a pair of walk-ons in former Air Force quarterback Ryan Brand and freshman Legend Brumbaugh, the son of co-defensive coordinator Jimmy Brumbaugh. Henderson has been working with the second-team offense in practice this week, while Brand has been running the third-team offense.
Maryland offensive coordinator Walt Bell said earlier this month that he would also consider using running backs Ty Johnson and Lorenzo Harrison under center if he was in a pinch, but for now it appears that Bell will rely on Bortenschlager remaining healthy and Henderson finding his way back onto the field.
Either way, Maryland’s offense will struggle to be as versatile as it was with Pigrome and Hill, both of whom were capable of using their running ability to open up the zone-read option for Johnson and Harrison. Maryland averaged 315 rushing yards in its first two wins but was held to 42 in the loss to UCF.
“We already know what we have to do and what is expected from us,” Harrison said. “I don’t think there’s any added pressure.”
Hill, a former four-star recruit from St. John’s College High in the District who is considered the program’s future at the position, relieved Pigrome and set up the decisive score in the fourth quarter in the season-opening win over the Longhorns. He started and played well again the following week in a 63-17 win over Towson, which was the first time that Maryland had scored 50 or more points in consecutive games to open a season. Hill completed the first 11 throws of his career and won praise from Durkin for his rare maturity.
The schedule also seemed to set up perfectly for Hill, first to get acclimated as the starter against a Football Championship Subdivision team and then to use a bye week to prepare for UCF.
But Hill was crushed on a scramble on the second drive of the game against the Knights. On a pass call on third and 13 deep inside UCF territory, he decided to tuck and run. Hill was drilled by two UCF defenders as he tried to spin in traffic, then stayed down on the field for several minutes before returning to the sideline. Before he eventually was carted off the field, Hill was greeted by Johnson, who tried to remain composed despite seeing his starting quarterback go down for the second time in three games.
“I just told him, ‘Keep your head up,’” Johnson said, “’and we’re going to get this thing right.’”
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