There was a moment against West Virginia when Randy Edsall saw everything click for Perry Hills. The Maryland football coach watched as his true freshman quarterback, who had labored at times through three college starts, throw for a career-high 305 yards and three touchdowns. He saw a confident Hills, an attribute he maintained even through the interceptions and fumbles and sacks, but this time it appeared in the box score, too.
It was only a matter of time, according to Edsall.
“Knowing Perry, you could just see it was coming,” Edsall said during Wednesday’s ACC coaches teleconference. “His demeanor, how he pushes everything, how passionate he is about doing well … I could almost see the game really start to slow down for him as opposed to the other games. I don’t know why, but it just seems to happen. That’s the way it is. All of a sudden it clicks.”
Entering the bye week at 2-2 before ACC play, the Terps’ offense is ranked 116th out of 120 FBS teams. But Hills’s completion percentage, which had trended downward from 67 percent against William & Mary (despite three interceptions) to 52 percent against Temple to 42 percent against Connecticut, spiked to nearly 69 percent with a 20-for-29 outing that included two touchdown passes to Stefon Diggs and another touchdown pass in traffic to a sliding Marcus Leak.
“He’s seen so many different things in four weeks, four different types of defenses, I just think it’s going to slow down for him and he’s going to get better and better,” Edsall said. “Experience is a great teacher. He’s taken some shots, and he’s gotten hit way too much, but you don’t see him backing down or shying away. That just tells you the mental and physical makeup of the young man.”
Edsall iterated the team’s total commitment to Hills last week, and the Terps other quarterback options are limited. But Edsall couldn’t hide his excitement when asked about the future, about the potential tandem of Hills and Diggs once they have at least one college season under their belts.
“That’s why you have to have patience and remember who those guys are,” Edsall said. “When you throw in all the young guys there in the backfield playing their first games, you just have to have patience. When you take a look at the things we did against West Virginia and how we progressed each and every week, it makes you feel good to have those type of players who you can build your offense around, and they’ll be more successful the more they play.”