Things seem to be looking up for the Maryland Terrapins these days. With millions of Under Armour dollars in the bank, a unique indoor facility being readied and a bowl game last season.
Head coach D.J. Durkin couldn’t have dreamt up a better scenario in his first season. That was especially true with what could only be described as a mess at quarterback.
Caleb Rowe led the team with appearances in 12 games, but he was a part of a quarterback group that saw three players make appearances in at least 11 games last season.
Rowe finished with 296 yards passing and no touchdowns to three interceptions. Meanwhile fellow senior Perry Hills completed just 122 passes (of 197 attempts) for 1,464 yards and 12 touchdowns to four interceptions.
Finally, there was freshman quarterback Tyrell Pigrome, who didn’t exactly set the world on fire statistically in 2016. He completed just 52.1 percent of his passes for 322 yards and two touchdowns to two interceptions. Compare that to 254 yards on just 62 attempts rushing and you have the makings of a dual-threat quarterback.
None of that is a way to win long-term in offensive coordinator Walt Bell’s offense though.
Now, entering year two of his tenure, Durkin and Bell have a big-time decision to make. Do they want a quarterback who is a run-first option or do they want to open up the passing game more?
With Hills and Rowe gone, this spring is the perfect time to hit the reset button on the quarterback position. It also means finding a land and sticking to it for a while.
This spring will see now sophomore Pigrome compete with Caleb Henderson and Max Bortenschlager. Bortenschlager also saw action last season, but is a very different quarterback from Pigrome.
No doubt Pigrome wins the battle in terms of experience, but as we highlighted earlier, it wasn’t exactly like he was a gunslinger in the backfield. But, if Bell is looking at his roster and seeing a dual-threat quarterback as the best option to win games, Pigrome could easily fit that bill.
If Bell wants to stretch the field and get things going on the deep ball, well he has a few options available in Caleb Henderson and the highly touted incoming freshman Kasim Hill.
Maryland’s marketing department certainly is banking on the four-star quarterback becoming the answer quickly. It has even put him on season-ticket advertising for this upcoming season.
Maryland's got QB commit Kasim Hill on its advertisement for season tickets for next season. pic.twitter.com/LnvQLHgzeM
— Ryan Connors (@RyanConnors_) February 4, 2017
As for his game, Hill could be the perfect compromise between an all-out rushing quarterback and a gunslinger. One look at his tape and you can see a quarterback with plenty of arm talent, but maybe not the comfort in the passing game that a seasons pass-first quarterback would have.
Of course, all of that assumes Hill is able to absorb the offense become a confident passer and surpass a few others in just over three months of work this summer.
If not Hill, there is Henderson in the pass-first category. The former four-star recruit and North Carolina Tar Heel has the pedigree of a great high school passer, but he has thrown all of three passes in his collegiate career.
Did a year of sitting out and learning Bell’s offensive philosophy turn the bulb on for Henderson? Only spring ball will tell us those answers, but if there is one player for whom spring practice means the most, it may well be Henderson.
The good news is that Henderson seems to be getting rave reviews in camp so far according to the Washington Post.
“He’s high energy and he’s really talented. I mean Caleb can really run the ball, as well as throw,” Maryland Coach DJ Durkin said to the Washington Post. “He’s got a strong arm. He’s a big, thick body who runs really well. He’s a good athlete. All of those things, in terms of talent, he checks all the boxes.”
With a variety of quarterbacks to select from this spring and offseason, there is little rush to make the decision. However, some decision needs to be made on the direction this offense will take in 2017 at least.
Can the Terps offensive staff figure the answer to the biggest question of this season out this spring? it certainly would be a good sign to have said answer coming out of spring.