By Max Marcilla
Facing a 28-0 halftime deficit, the Maryland Terrapins went into the locker room with few positives to take from their Saturday afternoon contest with No. 21 Michigan.
In the first half, the Maryland offense, led by preferred walk-on Ryan Brand, was averaging just three yards per play, including 1.3 yards per pass. It had just seen its lone red zone opportunity stymied by Brand’s first interception and was just 1-of-8 on third down.
Although it did not change the outcome — a 35-10 Wolverine victory — the Terps’ second half offensive performance gave some positives to an otherwise bleak game.
“We started a fifth-string quarterback today, playing one of the best defenses in the country,” head coach DJ Durkin said. “There was a little tentativeness like, ‘Can we really do this? Is this actually going to work? Is it going to happen?’… You can’t do it that way, you can’t let it affect your whole game.”
While Brand was not the biggest problem Maryland’s offense had in the first half, it certainly has to be tough for the team to have to constantly shuffle quarterbacks. Tyrrell Pigrome and Kasim Hill both suffered season-ending knee injuries in the opening weeks of the season while Max Bortenschlager has dealt with a pair of injuries since taking over the starting role.
“[When a quarterback gets injured] it hurts, you mourn for a little bit and then you move on,” wide receiver Taivon Jacobs said.
Despite the frequent changes at the quarterback position, the Terps came out and closed the game with a solid offensive showing. In the second half, Maryland scored 10 points, outgained Michigan 228-93 and averaged 6.9 yards per play.
“You look at the second half and you saw us finally just take a deep breath, relax and play football,” Durkin said.
Maryland is used to poor first halves against ranked foes — it has been outscored 191-13 in the first two quarters of those games under Durkin.
The current challenge for the Terrapins: translating second half success and putting together a complete game against a top-tier Big Ten team.
“We proved that we can play good ball when we’re doing what we need to do,” running back Lorenzo Harrison said. “We’re just going to take the momentum and keep it going.”
The Terps will have two chances to do so against teams ranked in the AP top 25 — next week’s road game at Michigan State and the following week at home against Penn State.