Through his four games as Maryland’s starting quarterback, Perry Hills has seen all manner of defensive fronts. Disguised blitzes. Traditional 4-3 and 3-4 packages. But on Saturday, he’ll have some comfort and familiarity for the first time.
Wake Forest runs the same “50” scheme as West Virginia, against whom Hills had a career-high 305 passing yards and three touchdowns. He took advantage of five down linemen early with middle screens to tight end Matt Furstenburg and bubble screens to Kevin Dorsey, opening up room for Stefon Diggs on the outside. Expect more of the same against the Demon Deacons on Saturday at Byrd Stadium.
Hills is seeing things a lot easier now, he said Wednesday. The game is slowing down, instead of happening all at once. Coach Randy Edsall said Hills spent his bye week under the weather, but the true freshman still returned to Pittsburgh to visit family before returning to the film room.
“We were able to take some time in individual drills to continue his technique work, playing the fundamentals of a position,” Edsall said. “It was all good things. Out there, running things we’re going to run against Wake Forest, things we’re going to run the rest of the season. Just getting him more comfortable with all the different reads, all the different looks, timing with the receivers.”
If nothing else, Hills is becoming more comfortable with his arsenal of wideouts, and vice versa. Diggs was astute enough against Connecticut to realize that Hills’s deeper passes stay in the air longer than normal quarterbacks, and it resulted in a tipped touchdown catch. Marcus Leak has become a consistent threat, as well.
And then there’s the matter of the sacks. Hills got crushed against West Virginia — once losing a fumble that was returned for a touchdown, the other a post-whistle blind crack that took him out for a play — and still turned out the best effort of the season. The Terps moved Mike Madaras and Andrew Zeller into the starting lineup this week for added protection, as well.
“A lot of that is fundamentals and technique up front,” Edsall said. “Part of that, too, is Perry’s job to get rid of the ball on time. That’s something we’ll continually work on and get better at. We have to get better. One of the things we told Perry: If you don’t want to get hit so much, make sure the ball comes out on time, make sure we get ourselves into the proper protection so you can save some of those hits you’re taking and not have them affect you.”
Don’t count on those hits affecting Hills on a personal level. Whether they affect the offense has been the real issue.