The rumor began circulating Friday night that Maryland was going to have a "surprise" starter at quarterback against No. 18 Nebraska at Memorial Stadium.

Given that the Terps had already started two quarterbacks this season, fifth-year senior Perry Hills and true freshman Tyrrell Pigrome, and had also played a third in fifth-year senior Caleb Rowe, it left only two possibilities.


Maryland didn't start 6-foot-7 redshirt freshman Gage Shaffer against the Cornhuskers. First-year coach DJ Durkin gave true freshman Max Bortenschlager his first college start, and didn't seem displeased by the results.

Though his final stats weren't eye-popping – 14-for-29 for 191 yards and a touchdown – Bortenschlager showed tenacity and touch in his team's 28-7 defeat.

Keeping the plays pretty much scripted from the beginning, with Bortenschlager not going through many progressions to find his receivers, the Terps moved the ball well on their opening series but came up empty.

After driving from the Maryland 33 to the Nebraska 28, Bortenschlager threw incompletions on second and third-and-10, and Rowe failed to connect on a pass on a fake field goal on fourth down.

"You look at the first drive of the game, I thought he did a really good job moving us down the field. We didn't convert that into points," Durkin said. "We kind of got stagnant there a little bit, we couldn't run the ball, and that really obviously affected him."

Durkin blamed some of Bortenschlager's problems to a lack of a running game.

"We struggled to run the ball, which really throughout this year that's been the one constant offensively speaking," Durkin said. "That affected Max. When you can't run the ball, that's hard on any quarterback, especially a freshman playing in a hostile environment. I thought he handled the situation well."

Sophomore wide receiver D.J. Moore, who caught six passes for 124 yards, including a 92-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter, said he was impressed by Bortenschlager.

"Max did good. He played good for a freshman, he didn't make as many mistakes as we thought he would make, but at the end of the day, he's just a freshman and went out there and balled his behind off, so that's good," Moore said.

Bortenschlager was only the second Maryland quarterback to play an entire game this season, with Hills being the other. He didn't have a turnover and stood in the pocket under relentless pressure.

"I thought Max did a pretty good job today for a freshman quarterback playing at a place like Nebraska," senior offensive tackle Michael Dunn said. "It's tough. Every team deals with having a quarterback banged up or other players banged up. Just going to have the next guy step in there and do his job and hopefully be productive."

In keeping with a season-long policy of not allowing freshmen to talk to the media, Bortenschlager was not available for comment after the game.

Durkin said that he came to his decision to start Bortenschlager over Pigrome and Rowe "in the past 24 hours" after it was determined that Hills was not "healthy enough to play" because of injuries to both his shoulders.

"It was not in the best interest of him or our team, that's why he wasn't going to play, " Durkin said about starting Hills, who had been forced out of the past two games with shoulder injuries. "We felt Max had a really good week of practice. Like with any position, we let guys go compete and earn it, and Max earned it."


Durkin is not making a commitment about his quarterback situation going into the regular season-finale agaisnt Rutgers. He can't venture a guess whether Hills will be available.

"I can't predict seven days from now how Perry is going to feel," Durkin said. "He's one of the toughest guys I've ever been around. If he can go at all, or is able to, he will, but I don't know."

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