Maryland couldn’t make it through the past five seasons without a midseason injury prompting a quarterback change.
It likely will not this year, either.
While the Terrapins await a Monday MRI exam on freshman Perry Hills’ left knee, Maryland might attempt to save a season with an inherently thin margin for error by turning to a sophomore a little more than two months removed from playing wide receiver or a true freshman with four college snaps to his name.
Coach Randy Edsall had no update Sunday on Hills and demurred on hypothetical situations if the quarterback was lost for an extended period. But there was no doubt it was a wrenching development for the freshman, who sobbed as he was carted off during Saturday’s 20-18 loss to N.C. State.
“He was devastated,” Edsall said. “He wanted to go out there and compete. At halftime, he wanted to put a brace on and go out and play.”
If Edsall had a blueprint for his second season, the Terrapins’ resilience and full-game competitiveness could have functioned as cornerstones. But for all of Maryland’s intangible improvements, its options were limited at quarterback when camp commenced and have severely winnowed since.
Expected starter C.J. Brown was lost for the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. Hills stepped in and predictably provided the medley of results expected from most guys a few months removed from high school.
It wasn’t always artful, but Hills did help coax Maryland to four wins in the first half of the season. And the one thing he could be counted upon for was ruggedness; the Pittsburgh native kept going, even after taking 24 sacks.
At least until Saturday, when Hills had his left foot planted after tossing an interception and N.C. State linebacker Rickey Dowdy blocked him from the back. Hills’ knee buckled, ending the day of the man who took 413 of Maryland’s 416 snaps this year before his injury and perhaps ending any chance of a Terp quarterback starting wire-to-wire for the first time since Sam Hollenbach in 2006.
“I’m just disappointed for Perry and very disappointed in the way the block took place,” Edsall said.
Burns handled much of the second-half work, rushing for 50 yards and a touchdown. Recruited to Maryland as a quarterback under the previous staff, he was switched to wideout before volunteering to move back after Brown’s injury.
There will be no surprise factor going forward for Burns, whose elusive presence flummoxed N.C. State and forced the Wolfpack to show greater respect to Maryland’s rushing attack. Nonetheless, he was a capable enough passer to prevent an all-out attempt to stop the run.
“I warmed up enough to get the ball out there quick with some of the quick throws we had built into the scheme today,” Burns said. “Just more working with the first team and I’ll be ready.”
As each game ticked away, it looked like Rowe was headed for a redshirt season. And he probably was, barring a Hills injury.