A week after making the pronouncement of his starting quarterback a “game-time decision,” Maryland coach DJ Durkin said at his weekly news conference Tuesday that sophomore Max Bortenschlager will start Saturday’s game at Michigan State “if he’s healthy.”
While the nature of Bortenschlager’s injury suffered in the fourth quarter of a 31-24 loss at Rutgers on Nov. 4 was never disclosed, he sat out last week’s 35-10 defeat to Michigan at Maryland Stadium. Redshirt sophomore Ryan Brand played the entire game.
“We’ll be here day by day going through the week with Max, but I anticipate he’ll be ready to go,” Durkin said. “Like I’ve said before, Max is a really tough kid, a great competitor. As you make decisions as a coach, you always have to make decisions for the team.
“But you also have to keep in mind what’s best for a young man. That’s a lot of what came down to last week [starting Brand]. Is it the right circumstance to put him in or not? But as Max prepares through this week, we’ll see, but I think he’ll be ready to go.”
Bortenschlager has completed 88 of 172 passes for 1,007 yards with 10 touchdowns and five interceptions this season.
Brand, a walk-on who started his career as a scholarship player at Air Force, was much more effective in the second half against the Wolverines than in the first, as was Maryland’s offense.
Trailing 28-0 at halftime, the Terps gained 259 of their 340 yards and scored all of their points in the second half as Brand completed seven of 13 passes for 88 yards and rushed four times for 38 yards. For the game, Brand completed 16 of 35 passes for one touchdown. He also threw an interception in each half.
Bortenschlager, who had made six straight starts after sophomore Kasim Hill and freshman Tyrrell Pigrome each suffered an ACL tear, was knocked out of the game against Rutgers with what was either a mild concussion or an injury to his left shoulder or clavicle.
A week ago, when the decision was up in the air about who would start against Michigan, Durkin said it would be decided by who was healthy and who gave the Terps the better chance to win against another highly favored opponent.
“There’s no rule that you can’t lose your job because of [an injury],” Durkin said. “We’re always going to play the best guy that gives us the best chance to win. In this case, right here, I think as we’ve all seen, Max has played a lot of football for us this year.
“I think he’s been very effective at times and, like anyone else, there’s times you wish we did a few things better. It’s more about going through the week and how prepared is he to play. Max is the guy on the depth chart, and if ready to go will be the quarterback.”