When Maryland football takes on the Michigan Wolverines tomorrow afternoon in College Park, the Terps could be starting their fourth quarterback this season, after quarterback Max Bortenschlager left the fourth quarter of Maryland’s loss to Rutgers with an undisclosed injury.
Bortenschlager was replaced by sophomore transfer Ryan Brand, who came to the Terps from a junior college after spending a year at Air Force. Brand beat out Caleb Henderson, a transfer from UNC, to win the backup quarterback job with his work in practice, coaches said.
“Ryan had the couple better work weeks. He spread the ball around a little bit better and he does give you something with his feet,” offensive coordinator Walt Bell said. “It was those last two weeks of practice that kind of convinced us and his teammates that he was the guy to go in in that situation.”
Against Rutgers, Brand completed 8-of-12 passes and nearly led a game-tying drive down the field in the fourth quarter. He threw a touchdown pass to tie the game, but it was overturned because of a holding call on Maryland’s offensive line.
Brand finished with 68 yards passing and 14 rushing yards in the win.
“Ryan came in and did an outstanding job under the circumstances,” head coach DJ Durkin said. “I know the touchdown pass got called back, but I think you couldn’t ask much more from him.”
No matter who starts the game, they will face a dominant Michigan defense, which is the third-ranked total defense in the nation. The Wolverines defense also features a dangerous pass rush, led by sophomore Rashan Gary and redshirt senior Maurice Hurst, which could pose problems for the Terps passing attack.
It is a defense that Bell called both simple for its players and complex for opponents, which combined with the Wolverines blue-chip talent has stymied opposing offenses.
While the Wolverines defense is elite, their offense has seen multiple issues behind center this season — like Maryland, they are on their third starting quarterback this season.
“We know they have a young quarterback so they’re going to try to run the ball a lot,” Terps linebacker Isaiah Davis said.
Davis also said that after the Terps poor performance on the ground against Rutgers, the Wolverines will be likely to try and take advantage of their rush defense. However, Davis attributed the Terps poor performance to a flat start because they overlooked Rutgers; he said it will not happen again against Michigan.
Regardless of the Terps intensity levels, the Wolverines offense causes problems for their opponents with a consistently good rushing attack.
“They’re running the ball really well, they’re really well coached,” Durkin said. “They’re physical up front, they present a lot of issues in the run game with scheme and movement and getting angles on you pre-snap.”
The Terps ability to stop the run is directly correlated to their success this season, as Maryland is undefeated when they hold opponents under 100 yards on the ground.