Maryland scrambling after injury to Hills

Senior linemen Justin Gilbert and A.J. Francis had fun on Tuesday, speculating where they might fall on the depth chart at quarterback for injury-riddled Maryland.

Seeing instability at the position is nothing new for the pair of 300-pounders. On Monday, Maryland learned that freshman Perry Hills had a torn ACL. In each of the last six years, the Terps have finished with a different starting quarterback than they opened. The last quarterback to start from beginning to end of a season was Sam Hollenbach in 2006.

Francis and Gilbert have seen plenty of change -- From Jordan Steffy, to Chris Turner, to Jamarr Robinson, to Danny O'Brien, to C.J. Brown, to Hills and to now Devin Burns or Caleb Rowe. With starters Brown and Hills lost this season with the same injury, the Terps are down to two available quarterbacks, none of whom had thrown a pass in a college game until Hills was hurt in Saturday's 20-18 loss to N.C. State.

Up Next
Maryland at Boston College
When » Saturday, 1 p.m.
Where » Alumni Stadium, Chestnut Hill, Mass.
Radio » ESPN 980 AM

"I told Coach [Randy] Edsall that I played quarterback in sixth grade," Francis said. "He said he figured I had a good arm, but he didn't think I'd be able to run the zone read."

The situation has become so dire at Maryland (4-3, 2-1) that Edsall will work two former high school quarterbacks out at their old position. Tight end Brian McMahon, a 6-4, 230-pound freshman, was a dual-threat quarterback at Atholton High in Howard County. Linebacker Shawn Petty, a 6-1, 230-pound freshman, also played the quarterback at Eleanor Roosevelt.

"I have been through this before. I had a [defensive back] that we had to get ready to play quarterback in Darius Butler when I was at Connecticut," Edsall said. "You always have to have a plan for the 'what ifs.'?"

In addition to finding a No. 3 quarterback, Edsall will have to decide on a starter for Saturday's game at Boston College (1-6, 0-4). Sophomore Burns was impressive on Saturday, leading second-half drives that produced two touchdowns and a field goal. Rowe only took four snaps, but he produced 60 total yards as the Terps moved into position for the potential game-winning field goal that freshman Brad Craddock missed.

Edsall was noncommittal on his choice, largely because the two candidates have vastly different skill sets and present different challenges for the defense of Boston College. Burns, a converted wide receiver, is one of the fastest players on the team, suited to option carries out of a spread formation. Rowe showed mobility Saturday, but he has a stronger arm than Burns and is more of a threat on traditional, drop-back plays.

On Saturday, the anemic rushing attack of Maryland came alive with Burns (12 carries, 50 yards) at quarterback as freshman Wes Brown (25 carries, 121 yards) became the first Terps player this year to rush for more than 75 yards.

"Once you bring in a mobile quarterback, you gotta expect that," Gilbert said. "It opens up holes. They've got to start to respect the quarterback and the running back."