- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 29, 2017

COLLEGE PARK — Maryland coach D.J. Durkin said throughout training camp the quarterback competition would be no different than the other positions — performance would be the deciding factor. When he got to the podium for a Tuesday press conference, Durkin touted the line again.

Only this time, Durkin had made his decision: sophomore Tyrrell Pigrome will get the start Saturday when the Terrapins travel to Austin to face No. 23 Texas.

Maryland announced the decision Monday when the team’s first depth chart was released. Durkin said Tuesday that Pigrome had separated himself during camp.

“Every guy at that position, and it’s true across the board, has different strengths and weaknesses, so you factor all those in,” Durkin said. “[Pigrome] obviously has running ability, a dynamic runner. Everything was factored in. … That’s who we feel gives us the best chance right now.”

Pigrome beat out three other quarterbacks on the roster in freshman Kasim Hill, sophomore Max Bortenschlager and redshirt junior Caleb Henderson. Pigrome was the only one to see the field last year, appearing in 11 games, making one start and throwing for 322 yards.

At 5-foot-11, Pigrome is the prototypical dual-threat quarterback. As a freshman, Pigrome had four rushing touchdowns last year and 254 yards on the ground.

Durkin, though, said the playbook would be wide open for Pigrome and he has full confidence in the quarterback’s ability to throw downfield.

“Honestly, he’s gotten a lot better under pressure,” junior center Brendan Moore said of Pigrome. “He steps up in the pocket. He’s taking great steps in leadership, as well as throwing the ball down field. I trust him.”

The Terrapins have a challenging task ahead of them in the first game. Besides facing a nationally ranked team, Texas hired Tom Herman in November from the University of Houston — leaving Maryland to examine old Houston tape while having to evaluate Texas’ personnel from last year.

In Durkin’s first year, Maryland was 2-4 on the road.

The Terrapins are also 0-7 all-time when opening the season against ranked opponents.

Junior running back Ty Johnson said he’s been watching a lot of film from Texas’ spring game, in addition to Herman’s games at Houston.

“They look the part,” said Johnson, who led Maryland with 1,004 rushing yards last season. “They have pretty big guys. They flow to the ball pretty well. They have guys that make plays.”

Maryland is a heavy underdog against Texas with the Longhorns being favored by 18½ points. Johnson wasn’t aware of the spread and said he tries to tune out any outside discussion, but added they are motivated.

Durkin said they are looking forward to the challenge.

“The whole reason you play this game and come to a place like this is to play in these types of games,” Durkin said. 

For Texas, Herman said on a conference call Monday his team has to stop Johnson and sophomore running back Lorenzo Harrison. Herman even had a catchy nickname for the duo — dubbing them the “Presidential Backfield.”

Harrison and Johnson averaged nearly 200 yards per game last season. They are both explosive runners and Maryland is getting Harrison back after a four-game suspension ended his season prematurely in 2016 for violating the student-athlete code of conduct.  Harrison was charged with assault over his alleged role in a BB-gun shooting incident on campus, though charges were later dropped.

Johnson was a fan of the nickname.

“We’re going to go in there and maybe lay down some ‘presidential yards’ or something,” Johnson said. “We’ll see.”

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