Perry Hills completed his second practice as the Maryland football team’s first-string quarterback on Thursday morning, less than 24 hours after Coach Randy Edsall revealed starter C.J. Brown would be lost for the season with a torn ACL in his right knee.
Following the two-hour session, teammates praised the freshman’s moxie and dedication as he has been unexpectedly pressed into service a little more than two weeks before the season opener.
“Before when C.J. went down, the night we found out, I’d say probably no,” senior tight end Matt Furstenburg said when asked if he thought Hills would be ready for William & Mary on Sept. 1. “But after seeing him practice, those quarterbacks have stepped up a lot, and I think it’s going to get done.”
Such is the circumstance in which the Terrapins find themselves after Brown tore the ACL in his knee on Tuesday night while planting his right knee in a non-contact two-minute drill.
The Terrapins had been counting on Brown to be the centerpiece of the pro-style offense Locksley is installing, but now that onus falls to Hills, who had claimed the backup job over the first week of training camp by moving ahead of Rowe.
“There’s things that [Hills] has got to improve upon, but the biggest thing is you’ve got to take a look at who can control the huddle,” Edsall said. “Can they get to the line of scrimmage, and there’s no delay-of-games and getting everybody lined up and doing doing all those things?
“Then it’s up to a lot of the other people around him. If he can do that and get the play called, know what the checks are, those sort of things, then hey, it’s up to offensive line when we go pass play that they’ve got to protect, receivers have got to get open, and he has to throw it on time. But yeah, I’ve been pleased with what I’ve seen.”
One of those wide receivers who figures heavily into Maryland’s plans is Kevin Dorsey. The senior led the Terrapins last season with 45 receptions for 573 yards and three touchdowns.
Dorsey also played quarterback when he was in his early teens, so he has some working knowledge of the demands of the position. That familiarity helped in establishing a relationship with not only Brown but also Hills and Rowe.
As a seasoned veteran, Dorsey also may see a play unfold differently than Hills or Rowe, and he’s provided advice and insight to that effect since training camp began on Aug. 6.
“Definitely from Perry you see the poise,” Dorsey said. “He’s just calm and relaxed. He can joke around a little bit, when it’s game time he’s pretty serious.”
The next major hurdle for Hills is performing well during Saturday’s open scrimmage at Byrd Stadium, after which he will be made available to reporters for the first time.
Last weekend in Maryland’s first scrimmage that was closed to the public and reporters, Hills played 55 snaps with the second team while Brown took 46 with the starters, Edsall said.
“I feel bad for C.J. It’s a terrible injury, but it happens in football,” Furstenburg said. “You’ve just got to keep moving forward. The good teams that do that win.”