At what point will the hits get to Perry Hills?
Maryland’s quarterback has proved himself capable of absorbing shot after shot in the backfield, always bouncing up for the next play. Even after absorbing a brutal blindside hit post-whistle Saturday, Hills needed just one play to regain his breath.
But still, the numbers leave cause for concern. The Terps are allowing 4.00 sacks per game, which ranks 116th out of 120 qualifying football bowl subdivision teams, and Hills has taken 16 sacks, second-most in the nation. Connecticut sacked Hills six times in a 24-21 win, and West Virginia got to him five times, the first of which turned into a 51-yard fumble recovery midway through the first quarter.
“It’s a combination of everybody,” Coach Randy Edsall said. “There’s times when Perry’s got to get the ball out of his hands a little bit quicker, he’s got to trust his receivers to get their head around, and then there’s times where we don’t do a good enough job with those techniques.”
Granted, that fumble recovery stemmed more from a perfectly timed safety blitz, but giving Hills, a true freshman, enough time for his read progressions has been the subject of much discussion lately.
“We’ve got to keep working on it and keep getting better,” Edsall said. “You don’t want to see your quarterback get hit too many times. As a lineman you got to say, ‘We don’t want our guy to get hit.’ Then as coaches we need to make sure we do the things to take care of things.”
Edsall said Sunday that Mike Madaras and Andrew Zeller “definitely could” see more playing time after impressing Edsall during the West Virginia game. Madaras is a true freshman from Good Counsel, while Zeller, a redshirt freshman, had a key block by the far sideline on Stefon Diggs’s 56-yard fourth-quarter touchdown run that took out three West Virginia defenders.
“That’s exactly what I’m looking for with our offensive line,” Edsall said. “He blocks on the line of scrimmage, and you teach your linemen to go down and cover, he goes down and takes three guys out with a block down the field. Those are the things. I would think [more playing time] is probably going to happen.”