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Maryland quarterback Perry Hills has become a week-to-week question mark

Maryland football coach DJ Durkin reiterated Tuesday that fifth-year quarterback Perry Hills is "day-to-day" and his status remains uncertain for Saturday's game at No. 18 Nebraska after injuring his left shoulder in last week's 62-3 loss to then-No. 5 Ohio State.

In reality, Hills' availability has been almost week-to-week since early in the season when he hurt his right shoulder getting tackled on the first play of double-overtime at Central Florida — a game the Terps won when backup Tyrrell Pigrome ran for a 24-yard touchdown on the very next play.

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Since then, Hills has been forced out three different times, including in each of the past two games: in the first quarter against the Buckeyes one week after leaving in the second quarter of a 59-3 loss to then-No. 4 Michigan. He was also sidelined during a loss at Penn State on Oct. 8.

"Certain weeks he's felt better than others, and we'll do what's right for Perry and our team," Durkin said during his regular Tuesday news conference. "He attacks every day that way. He does everything he can to practice and prepare, and we trust him to tell us how he feels."

Asked if he would consider sitting Hills out against Nebraska (8-2, 5-2 Big Ten) to let him get completely healthy for the regular-season finale at home against Rutgers on Nov. 26 — a game that will likely be a better chance for Maryland (5-5, 2-5) to become bowl-eligible — Durkin said, "It's all like a bunch of one-game seasons. We'll determine what gives us the best chance to win Saturday. If that's Perry in the lineup, that's what we'll do and if it's not, then that's what we're going to do. That's solely based on what his health is and also with the others around him.

"That's how it is with every position. What gives us the best chance to win this game? I think that that's what you have to [do]. I don't know how you do it another way. From there, we'll make that decision and we'll determine that later in the week."

Durkin said after last week's game that few college teams could afford to lose the starting quarterback and play with the same execution and production. No better example of that is what happened when Nebraska lost senior Tommy Armstrong early in its own 62-3 loss at Ohio State two weeks ago.

Armstrong was temporarily knocked unconscious after running into an equipment table behind the visiting sideline at Ohio State and had to be taken by ambulance to a local hospital, where it was determined that he had sustained a concussion.

Cleared at the last moment to play last week at home against Minnesota after passing his concussion protocol, Armstrong returned to lead the Cornhuskers to a 24-17 victory. He scored the game-winning touchdown to cap a 91-yard drive despite hurting his hamstring during the game.

Armstrong is expected to play on senior day Saturday at Memorial Stadium.

"He's a good player. There's good players every week," Durkin said. "That's who we play, that's our conference. He's done a tremendous job. He obviously had a great game from last week. He ended up putting them ahead. Their offense functions really well with him in there, and he's a big part of what they do."

The same can be said for a number of quarterbacks the Terps have played recently — from Ohio State's J.T. Barrett to Michigan's Wilton Speight to Penn State's Trace McSorley. The same might be said for Hills, who despite the injuries is having his best season statistically since coming to Maryland.

Durkin was asked whether having a starting quarterback knocked out of a game takes away his team's collective confidence.

"In our own circumstance, just the playing experience that Perry has and I know he has the respect of his teammates as a leader … not just in terms of throwing and running and actually playing the position, but just all the little things that add up to big things," Durkin said.

"The communication and running things and getting the offense in and out of calls and putting the ball in the right place, and decision-making that goes along with it. For us, it's a noticeable difference right now. That's something we've got to improve and get better at."

Senior linebacker Roman Braglio (McDonogh) said that when Armstrong went out against the Buckeyes and didn't return, "I think it kind of threw their offense off a little bit, just the timing and the tempo of it. When you don't have that No. 1 guy out there ... you can almost tell the whole demeanor of the team goes down."

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The positive of Hills' long stretch of being injured is the experience it has helped Pigrome gain, so he'll be better prepared in the future.

But Durkin didn't place the blame of the team's offensive struggles — particularly last week when it was held a 176 yards including just 43 on the ground — on fifth-year senior Caleb Rowe, who finished the first half last week, or Pigrome, who played the entire second half as he did against Penn State.

"When the starter goes out, whether it's the quarterback on any other spot, it's not just the guy that replaces him; it's everybody around him has to raise the level of play and help that guy out," Durkin said. "That's harder when you're the backup and the starter goes out."

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