Democracy Dies in Darkness

Maryland Terrapins

With knee injury behind him, quarterback Kasim Hill gains comfort in Matt Canada’s offense

September 12, 2018 at 1:49 PM

(John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

As Maryland began to power past Bowling Green on Saturday, quarterback Kasim Hill embraced a simple role — hand the ball off to running backs. Hill only had five pass attempts in the second half, and the run game took over.

“He didn’t come off saying, ‘What about this? What about this?’ ” interim coach Matt Canada said Tuesday. “He said, ‘Great. We scored.’ You watch those guys running and score, Kasim’s down there celebrating.”

Hill hasn’t generated flashy stats in the season’s first two games as Maryland’s starting quarterback, but he has managed games well and protected the football. Hill played in three games last year as a true freshman before suffering a season-ending knee injury, but now he is fully back and doesn’t let hesitation creep into his mind.

“Through the whole process of coming back, just trying to take the mental side out of it and not have any doubt,” Hill said. “I’ve worked to get back here, so just having trust in myself, trust in the whole process that took me back here, just going out there and playing again. It’s a blessing.”

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Between his limited action last year and the first two games of this season, Hill has thrown 66 times without an interception. He has completed just 55.6 percent of his passes this season but has led the team to two wins heading into Saturday’s game against visiting Temple.

Plus, Hill said he is feeling comfortable in the offense created by Canada, who arrived at Maryland in January as the offensive coordinator before being made interim head coach when DJ Durkin was placed on administrative leave in August.

“You’ve got to pick how you want to try to stop us,” Hill said of Canada’s offense. “We have a lot of different things that we can do. We have a lot of great players.”

Even when penalties made it difficult for Maryland to pull ahead until late in the third quarter of its 45-14 win at Bowling Green, Hill said he didn’t feel frustrated and continued to follow Canada’s game plan.

“Ever since I was younger, my parents always taught me about composure,” Hill said. “I try to stay calm in everything.”

Hill won the quarterback job over Tyrrell Pigrome, his teammate who also suffered a season-ending knee injury last year. Pigrome has also played this season, though sparingly. Canada said before the Bowling Green game that he plans to use both quarterbacks because “we’re going to play the best players,” and Hill and Pigrome fall into that category.

Pigrome, a redshirt sophomore, completed three passes for 22 yards in the season opener against Texas and ran three times for 12 yards. Canada swapped Pigrome for Hill during a series in that game so Hill could attempt to rush for a fourth-down conversion. The attempt failed, giving Texas the ball just 36 yards from Maryland’s end zone, and after the game, Canada took blame for the mistake.

Pigrome entered the game against Bowling Green in the second quarter and ran for an 18-yard gain, but he fumbled on the next play.

In both games, Canada’s offensive strategy has called for more carries than pass attempts, but Hill had a much larger role in the opener. He completed 17 of 29 passes for 222 yards and a 65-yard touchdown against the Longhorns, whereas against Bowling Green, Canada said the quarterback was tasked more with managing the clock and the weather. Hill completed 8 of 16 passes for 121 yards and a touchdown against the Falcons. The Terps piled up 444 rushing yards at Bowling Green after running for 143 against Texas.

“There will be a game when we don’t run the ball as well, when they stop the run and we have to throw passes,” Canada said. “I’m certainly hopeful, and I know it will be, our backs will be just as happy because hopefully we’ll win. I think it’s a credit to our whole football team. And Kasim is certainly one of the leaders of this team.”

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Emily Giambalvo covers University of Maryland athletics for The Washington Post.

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