With third-string quarterback Max Bortenschlager under center, the Maryland Terrapins will travel to Minneapolis to start Big Ten play against the Minnesota Golden Gophers Saturday afternoon.
Bortenschlager will take the helm of the offense after coming in for an inured Kasim Hill during the Terps 38-10 loss last week. In the loss the team played poorly following Hill’s injury, something both the coaching staff and players attributed to a poor handling of adversity.
Bortenschlager struggled in relief of Hill but head coach DJ Durkin expects him to perform much better against the Golden Gophers given the full week of practice with him as the starter.
“I think our offense can operate just fine with Max there,” Durkin added.
With an inexperienced Bortenschlager making his second career start, the Terps will look to lean on their defense to hold Minnesota’s productive running game in check. The Golden Gophers feature a top-40 rushing attack and average over 200 yards per game on the ground.
“The guys around the quarterback, the guys around the team have to elevate their play to make up for maybe a guy that went down at a position,” defensive coordinator Andy Buh said. “But [quarterback] is no different than any other position on our football team.
Maryland’s defense contended well against UCF in the first half before slipping to allow 24 second-half points.
One key player in the game will be defensive lineman Chandler Burkett whose role has increased since the injury to Jesse Aniebonam against Texas.
“Chandler’s doing great,” Durkin said. “He’s playing two different spots … He’s very accountable, assignment wise. He does a really good job and he’s conscious of and aware of the things that he’s got to do.”
Burkett and his fellow defensive lineman will need to control the trenches against the Golden Gophers in order to shut down their ground game.
On the other side of the ball, Maryland will look to rebound from a poor game running the ball against UCF against a sound Minnesota defense.
After struggling to break through in the first two games of the season, sophomore running back Lorenzo Harrison finally began to find some rhythm against UCF, something that did not surprise Terps offensive coordinator Walt Bell.
“I’m proud of Lo especially when you’re not playing well, he’s just been resilient and been a mentally tough guy.” Walt Bell said.
The Golden Gophers feature the nation’s top-ranked rushing defense, averaging just 59 yards per game allowed.
“When you watch the film, they play really hard,” Durkin said. “They have good personnel, they play fast, they’re sound in what they do. You can tell they’re well-coached.”
Bortenschlager may look to lean on junior wide receiver DJ Moore, who caught his lone touchdown pass last week, when the Terps are in need of production through the air.
If Maryland wins it will advance to 3-1 on the season and the Terps will be undefeated in conference play.
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