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Max Bortenschlager started 8 games for Maryland in 2017, but now faces an uphill battle

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Injuries forced him into a starting role last season. The Terps are hoping that’s not the case again.

NCAA Football: Northwestern at Maryland Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

With Quarterbacks Week in full swing, incumbent starters Tyrrell Pigrome and Kasim Hill have been crossed off the list. While they continue to rehab their season-ending knee injuries, it’s time to look at Maryland’s most experienced quarterback.

As last season’s de facto starting quarterback, Max Bortenschlager was a serviceable but unspectacular option for Maryland football. His hope for this year and beyond is to prove he can be more than that.

Max Bortenschlager, QB, No. 18

Height: 6’3
Weight: 211 lbs.
Year: Junior
Hometown: Fishers, Indiana
High school: Cathedral HS

2017 stats: 121-of-233, 1313 yards, 10 touchdowns, 5 interceptions; 40 carries, 168 yards, 2 rush TDs
Career stats: 137-of-266 (51.5%), 1522 yards, 11 touchdowns; 5 interceptions; 40 carries, 168 yards, 2 rush TDs

The background

Bortenschlager, along with Pigrome, was a late three-star pickup for the Terps in the 2016 cycle, as they found themselves without a quarterback commit in late January. His limited athleticism had him third on the depth chart during his freshman year behind a veteran Perry Hills and Pigrome, but Bortenschlager started against Nebraska late in the season. It wasn’t an amazing performance, but it also wasn’t a bad one.

When Hill and Pigrome went down in 2017, Bortenschlager once again found himself leading the Terps offense. He started eight games as a sophomore, which makes him the most experienced quarterback on Maryland’s roster.

That experience will be his calling card.

The one thing Bortenschlager does have that no other Terps quarterback has is at least three career starts (he has nine). Although Pigrome and Hill showed that kind of experience isn’t a prerequisite for success on the field, it has to count for something. Bortenschlager has won a Big Ten game on the road. He’s faced a first-quarter Ohio State defense, a Wisconsin defense. He’s played in a road game in the snow. He’s helped deliver a conference win in a shootout against Indiana.

While he wasn’t a worldbeater in any of those instances, he has plenty of game reps that he can recall when he needs to. At the very least, that makes him a valuable contributor in the quarterback meeting room. At best, he can take the field in a pressure situation knowing he’s been there before—knowing what he should and shouldn’t do.

But an ideal world doesn’t involve him playing that much.

If all goes according to plan, Bortenschlager won’t be forced into extensive action in 2018—or beyond, for that matter—but this is Maryland football and these are quarterbacks, so everybody has to be ready.

It remains to be seen exactly what the Maryland version of Matt Canada’s offense will look like, but there’s a very good chance it’s better-suited for Bortenschlager than Walt Bell’s was. That said, it’ll also more than likely play to the strengths of Pigrome and Hill, the latter of which seems to have the inside track to becoming the program’s quarterback of the future. But as long as Bortenschlager’s around, he’ll have something to offer the team.