COLLEGE PARK, Md. — There were several reasons why Tyrrell Pigrome won the starting quarterback job at Maryland, not the least of which are his experience, running ability and leadership skills.
Coach DJ Durkin took all that under consideration, then decided that the 5-foot-11 sophomore should be the one to guide the offense against No. 23 Texas in Saturday’s season opener.
“We have to make decisions as a program,” Durkin said Tuesday. “That’s who we feel gives us the best chance to win right now.”
Pigrome played in 11 games last year, including one start. He passed for 322 yards and two touchdowns, and ran for 254 yards and four scores.
In an intense competition that was finally decided this week, Pigrome prevailed over sophomore Max Bortenschlager, freshman Kasim Hill and redshirt junior transfer Caleb Henderson.
“He can run, he can pass,” center Brendan Moore said of Pigrome. “Honestly, I trust him behind me. I think we’re going to get a lot of things done of offense this year.”
A year ago, Maryland launched Durkin’s first season at home with a 52-13 rout of Howard. This season, the Terps open on the road against a storied opponent.
“It’s a big test for us, a big challenge in Week 1,” Durkin said. “But I think the whole reason you come to a place like this is to play these types of games.”
Moore, a 6-1, 302-pound junior, grew up in Austin, Texas. He went to more Longhorns games than he can remember, and understands just how tough it is for a visiting team to win there.
“Obviously, it’s going to be loud. It’s going to be rowdy. It’s their first game with a new head coach” Tom Herman, Moore said. “But we’ve played in a lot of big stadiums before. All we have to do is execute, do our thing and come out with a win.”
Maryland went 6-6 last year before losing to Boston College in the Quick Lane Bowl. Beating Texas in the would be the ideal way to enter the second phase of the Durkin Era.
But the Longhorns have won 17 straight home openers. In addition, they’re going to be eager to put on a show for Herman, who comes to Texas after serving three years as Ohio State’s offensive coordinator and two years at Houston, where he went 22-4.
“It’s definitely an honor to be able to go to Austin and open against such a prestigious program,” Maryland defensive back Darnell Savage said. “When I was at the age when I started to fall in love with football, (quarterback) Vince Young was at Texas. It’s kind of crazy how it turned out this way.”
It’s going to be a tough scenario for a sophomore quarterback with one career start, but Pigrome faced Ohio State and several other Big Ten schools last year.
“Terrell did a great job throughout this camp, and that’s how he earned the job,” Durkin said. “Experience is always something that helps. If you’ve been out there playing, you’ve been in the fire before.”