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 COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) -Jordan Steffy worked all summer to earn the job as Maryland's starting quarterback, and now a thumb injury is threatening to end his reign atop the depth chart after only one game.
Steffy hurt his right thumb in the second half of Saturday's 14-7 win over Delaware, a game in which coach Ralph Friedgen also used Chris Turner and Josh Portis at quarterback. Steffy, who was pulled in the fourth quarter, is still having difficultly taking snaps and handing off the football.
Even if he makes a rapid recovery, there's no guarantee the fifth-year senior will start Saturday on the road against Middle Tennessee State.
``I'm not sure right now. I've got to see how Chris practices this week and I'll see how Josh practices this week,'' Friedgen said Tuesday. ``I'm going to play the best guy that I feel can help us win the football game.''
And so, although the issue seemed resolved only a week ago, there's now another quarterback controversy at Maryland.
Steffy got the job because he was the sharpest quarterback in summer practice. He was also solid in the first half against Delaware, even though Maryland scored only seven points over the first 30 minutes. But Steffy's first pass of the third quarter was intercepted, and the Terrapins' next drive also ended with an interception.
Long before that, the crowd at Byrd Stadium began jeering Steffy and pleading for Friedgen to call on Turner, who replaced an injured Steffy last season and led the Terrapins to the Emerald Bowl.
Friedgen knows Steffy isn't the best quarterback ever to play at Maryland, but the coach was furious over the fashion in which the home fans expressed their disapproval of his performance.
``Would I like him to make some better decisions or throw some better passes? Sure. But this kid, to me, is the epitome of what we want in this football program,'' Friedgen said. ``The perseverance, the courage, the toughness that this kid is going through, he has nothing but my admiration. I can't tell you how proud I am that he is in our program. I'd be proud if he was my son.
``... I've got a lot invested in this, also. I wouldn't put a guy out there I didn't think is the best guy, and in practice he is,'' Friedgen said. ``It's a learning process. The game's got to slow down for you. It hasn't always for Jordan right now.''
If Steffy doesn't start, Turner will probably get the call and Portis will contribute off the bench. Turner was bitterly disappointed over losing the starting job this summer and considered transferring before finally deciding to stick it out at Maryland.
``I'm proud of Chris, also. The way he has handled this has been commendable,'' Friedgen said.
There is something to be said about having one person at the quarterback position, if for no other reason the rest of the offense gets used to the cadence of his signal-calling at the line. But the Terrapins seem OK with Friedgen's quarterback shuffle.
``There is the possibility of inconsistency,'' center Edwin Williams said, ``but the coaches do a good job of rotating the guys.''
There should be more of that Saturday against Middle Tennessee State, which opened last week with a 31-17 loss to Troy. If Steffy is forced to watch from the sideline Saturday, it will not signify the end of his playing days at Maryland.
``I can tell you this,'' Friedgen said. ``Regardless of who plays this week or next week or whatever, Jordan will come in and win a game for us before the season is over, I promise you that.''
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