Sacks were taken, passes overthrown. Footballs were stripped. Read options were blown up at the line of scrimmage, plenty of opportunities missed. And Perry Hills still jogged out of Byrd Stadium with another victory.
Maryland’s true freshman quarterback mustered just enough offense, aided in large part by some blown coverage on Kevin Dorsey’s 33-yard touchdown reception and 57 absurdly navigated yards after the catch from Stefon Diggs, to give the Terps a 19-14 win over Wake Forest.
Growing pains and mistakes, interspersed with game-changing drives or deft touchdown passes, have marked Hills’ first five college games. He has shown the ability to execute offensive coordinator Mike Locksley’s pro-style offense, even if his deep balls and zone read skills need work.
Hills finished 14 of 25 for 191 yards and a touchdown, but threw an interception, lost one of three fumbles, and took three sacks behind an offensive line featuring two first-time starters in Mike Madaras and Andrew Zeller.
The Terps have accepted the inconsistencies with enthusiasm, eager to help their young leader adjust and learn.
“I’m definitely starting to see the blitzes a lot easier; where they’re coming from, helping myself get picked up,” Hills said. “It’s definitely slowed down a lot instead of everything happening in a split-second, you start to see it a lot easier.”
Hills avoided multiple sacks against the Demon Deacons by getting the ball off in time — even though a couple came close to finding enemy hands — so perhaps the game is slowing down for the Pittsburgh native, who is not easily flushed out of the pocket. But he took deep shots when checkdowns might have been easier, overthrew Justus Pickett on what should have been an easy third-down conversion, and all told didn’t take any noticeable steps forward from his career-high 305-yard, three-touchdown effort against West Virginia before the bye week.
“I love Perry to death, but he is missing some things out there,” Coach Randy Edsall said Saturday. “He could make it a lot easier on himself and be a lot more efficient offensively if he goes where he is supposed to with the ball and makes some better reads. We just need to work with him and make sure he works to get better. As we continue to go forward, we need to eliminate some of those things.”
And yet, as Hills moves forward in games, he’s remarkably better. He was 4 for 4 for 70 yards against Wake Forest in the fourth quarter, and had by far his highest completion percentage – and more yards, for that matter – in any fourth quarter this season.