Maryland quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome fires a pass during Maryland's annual Red-White spring football game in College Park.
Maryland quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome fires a pass during Maryland's annual Red-White spring football game in College Park. (Doug Kapustin / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Three days had passed since Maryland's public scrimmage Saturday. When the last practice open to the media began Tuesday, the focus again was on quarterback reps.

Sophomore Tyrrell Pigrome, who seemingly had more shaky moments than either Kasim Hill or fellow sophomore Max Bortenschlager on Saturday at Maryland Stadium, was still running with the first team.


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Hill, whose nerves were obvious at the start of Saturday's scrimmage before his talent had produced two of the day's best throws, was mostly with the second team.

Bortenschlager, whose steadiness in the pocket and strong arm throwing downfield has seemingly kept him in the competition for being the opening-game starter at Texas on Sept. 2, was third in the rotation.

While second-year coach DJ Durkin was not divulging any secrets — basically saying that the No. 1 job might actually be decided when the Terps reach Austin the night before the game — what happened on the practice field Tuesday was telling.

Pigrome appeared to win the day, if not the job.

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"Every day I think helps get [making the decision] a little closer," Durkin said before Tuesday's practice. "We've had a lot of conversation; we've got a lot of things to evaluate and look at throughout camp. We're just continuing to do that.

"I was told one time in my life some wise words: when you have a big decision to make, take all the time necessary to make it. There's no reason to hurry. We're talking all the time we have to make a very important decision for our team."

With a little more than a week left before the opener, here's a breakdown of what factors could go into the decision of Durkin and offensive coordinator Walt Bell when it comes to choosing their starting quarterback.


Though Durkin often says that his strategy is geared more to his own team than the opposition, the Longhorns had one of the nation's best pass rushes in the country last season, finishing fifth in the Football Bowl Subdivision with 3.42 sacks per game.

They will have their two sacks leaders back from last season, junior linebackers Breckyn Hager (six sacks) and Malik Jefferson (5.5). Senior defensive tackle Poona Ford, who led the team in quarterback hurries (four), also returns.

It means the Terps, who had a difficult time protecting their quarterbacks a year ago (allowing 49 sacks, the second most among FBS teams), need to have their quarterback moving around including out of the pocket.

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That should favor Pigrome, who is the best of the three quarterbacks still in contention as far as running the ball. Plus, he seems more comfortable throwing on the run than from the pocket.

As much as his size might be considered a deterrent for a pocket passer, it might give the Terps an advantage if the Longhorns get overzealous in their pursuit. As good as Texas was in getting to the quarterback, the Longhorns were 105th in the FBS in passing yards allowed (258.5 per game).

Then again, one of Pigrome's shortcomings as a freshman was the fact that he typically took off rather than let the play develop in front of him. He appears to be a little more patient this season, though he still has a tendency to throw into coverage.


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As cool as Hill has appeared throughout the preseason, the relative privacy of a practice can't come close to matching what's in store at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium.

As freshmen, both Pigrome and Bortenschlager showed flashes in equally tough road settings: Pigrome at Penn State after taking over for an injured Perry Hills in the second quarter; Bortenschlager throughout his start at Nebraska late in the season when Hills was held out.

Some of Pigrome's best moments have come away from College Park. His only play at Central Florida resulted in a game-winning touchdown run in double-overtime. His first snap against the Nittany Lions was also a touchdown run.

It wouldn't be surprising to see Bell start with Pigrome — a player whom he seems to have much loyalty to since recruiting him first at Arkansas State — and use Hill if the Terps need to play catch-up.

That is something the Terps couldn't do last season when Hills went down against Penn State.


Though the Maryland defense appears to be much improved from last year, it's doubtful that Durkin can expect the developing unit to carry the team to victory against a nationally ranked opponent on the road.

Early-season road upsets often occur with the underdogs building double-digit leads and then holding on at the end. Since the Longhorns have question marks in the secondary, it might pay off for Bell to take some chances.

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When Bortenschlager played admirably in Lincoln, Neb., last season, the Terps were trying to stop the hemorrhaging of back-to-back blowouts to Michigan (59-3) and Ohio State (62-3) and needed more of a game manager against the Cornhuskers.

That's not the case here. This is the season opener, when Bell might be willing to open the playbook (with a few new wrinkles the Terps have yet to show). Pigrome and Hill could be the kind of quarterback duo to make that work.


Durkin has said going into preseason camp that all four candidates — redshirt junior transfer Caleb Henderson was knocked out of the competition when he recently re-injured the ankle he hurt in the spring — were capable of starting for a Power Five conference program.

In truth, Hill is the Maryland quarterback of the future. It's only a matter of time before he assumes the job. For now, though, the thought of starting a freshman who first arrived on campus in early June might be too much to expect, even with a player as talented as Hill.

While certainly a higher risk than Bortenschlager, there is still more of a history between Pigrome with the coaching staff and — just as importantly — with his teammates than there is with Hill. That trust in Hill is certain to build throughout the season, but for now it appears it's Pigrome's job to lose.

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