Chris Turner started the season as Maryland’s unquestioned starting quarterback.
For now, he still is.
Coach Ralph Friedgen clarified comments he made Sunday when he suggested if the Terrapins “didn’t start doing better, we have to start looking to the future.” At the time, he said the program could give a look to sophomore Jamarr Robinson and perhaps true freshman Danny O’Brien.
On Tuesday, Friedgen said he was not disappointed with Turner.
“I’m not down on Chris at all,” he said. “I think he’s one of our leaders and one of our captains, and he’s made a tremendous contribution to this football program in the time he’s been here. My answer to that question was more in reference to if we don’t continue to do well, obviously I have to look to the future. It wasn’t any disrespect toward Chris.”
Friedgen acknowledged his original comments could have been misinterpreted by Turner, a fifth-year senior who has absorbed 22 sacks for the Terps (2-5, 1-2 ACC) entering Saturday’s trip to Duke (3-3, 1-1).
“I’m going to talk to Chris,” Friedgen said. “I think he misconstrued some of the things I said [Sunday] night. I don’t know if that’s the case or not.”
Turner was not made available to reporters Tuesday. A team spokesman said he would meet with the media after practice Wednesday.
Maryland is off to its worst start since 1998, and its 20-9 loss to Virginia on Saturday prompted Friedgen to consider scenarios should the Terps continue to struggle. Turner is the only quarterback on the roster to attempt a pass.
Still, Maryland’s struggles are multifaceted, and Turner is hardly to blame for most of the rough start. An inexperienced offensive line was rendered leakier at times by injuries, and the tailbacks have endured fumbling issues. Meanwhile, penalties and dropped passes have occasionally surfaced as hampering traits.
“From the outside looking in, maybe to the media and the fans it might look like he’s doing a terrible job,” receiver Torrey Smith said. “From our end, we understand the little things and things that go wrong that break down. All the pressure goes on the quarterback, but there’s things we do wrong or the offensive line does wrong or maybe the running backs not picking up a blitz that have caused him to be under more stress.”
It hasn’t been a perfect season for Turner, who has thrown for 1,651 yards, nine touchdowns and eight interceptions. But he’s on pace to finish his career with 7,304 yards, three more than Scott Milanovich, who holds the school record.
“Right now, Chris is the guy,” center Phil Costa said. “We’ll stick with him through thick and thin. In my mind, there should be no quarterback change.”
The Terps still harbor bowl hopes, however slim they are after losing four of five, and Turner would be a vital factor in any turnaround.
“We’re not disenchanted with Chris,” Friedgen said. “If we don’t start doing better, I think it’s a thing where you have to look at next year. But right now, I’m focusing on beating Duke. Chris is a very big, important part of that, but so is Jamarr.”