Terps want to see how Hills plays un­der pres­sure

Fifth-year se­nior QB has ex­celled in two blowouts

Baltimore Sun - - SPORTS - By Don Markus

COL­LEGE PARK — Mary­land of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Walt Bell has been pleas­antly sur­prised with the per­for­mance of quar­ter­back Perry Hills, par­tic­u­larly when con­sid­er­ing how in­con­sis­tent and turnover-prone the fifth-year se­nior has been through­out his ca­reer.

Hills, who com­pleted just 90 of 180 passes while throw­ing 13 in­ter­cep­tions and eight touch­down passes in nine games last sea­son, has con­nected on 27 of 37 passes (73 per­cent, ninth in the Football Bowl Sub­di­vi­sion) this year and has not thrown an in­ter­cep­tion. He had three touch­down passes in last week’s 42-14 win at Florida In­ter­na­tional.

Af­ter see­ing his quar­ter­back play well in t wo straight blowouts — the Terps beat Howard, 52-13, in the opener — Bell would like to see how Hills per­forms un­der pres­sure. That might fi­nally hap­pen Satur­day night, when Mary­land (2-0) plays Cen­tral Florida (1-1) at Bright House Net­works Sta­dium in Or­lando.

“These first two games have kind of been tai­lor-made for his skills,” Bell said Wed­nes­day. “As our op­po­nents, start­ing with Cen­tral Florida, get tougher and tougher and tougher … I’d like to see him get put in some ad­verse sit­u­a­tions.”

Bell said he would like to see what Satur­day, 7 p.m. TV: CBS Sports Net­work Ra­dio: 105.7 FM, 980 AM Line: Mary­land by 91⁄

might hap­pen if Mary­land falls be­hind in the third quar­ter and Hills has to “find a throw” on a cru­cial third down, or if Hills has to “put the team on his back” down the stretch, though Bell was quick to add, “I hope we don’t have to find that out very soon.”

Hills said with a smile that Bell joked Tues­day about how mis­take-free his quar­ter­back has been.

“He was like, ‘Man, I can’t wait for you to throw an in­ter­cep­tion to see how you re­act,’ ” Hills said Wed­nes­day. “Ob­vi­ously he doesn’t want me to throw any in­ter­cep­tions … a tipped ball, some­thing will hap­pen. You can’t go down in the tank, you’ve just to com­pletely for­get about it and play the next play.”

Hills cred­its his high per­cent­age of com­ple­tions to team­mates as well as to the team’s 31-year-old of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor.

“Guys mak­ing plays,” Hills said. “Coach Bell calling re­ally good plays for me, then just ex­e­cut­ing the reads I’m sup­posed to. … He does a great job in pre­par­ing us to know ex­actly all the plays we have [in the game plan] and to be ready for when they are go­ing to be called.”

Bell said he has seen Hills’ con­fi­dence over the course of the pre­sea­son prac­tices as well as the first two games of the sea­son. It was a year ago that Hills was benched in the fourth quar­ter of a home loss to Bowl­ing Green, and it took him a few weeks — and coach Randy Ed­sall’s fir­ing — to be­come en­trenched as the No. 1 quar­ter­back.

It didn’t hurt that along with com­plet­ing 13 of 18 passes for 210 yards — in­clud­ing touch­down passes of 40 and 45 yards to sopho­more wide re­ceiver D.J. Moore, as well as a 9-yard touch­down to junior tight end Der­rick Hey­ward — Hills and Moore con­nected for a 21-yard flea-flicker.

“Coach Bell is al­ways go­ing to call a bold game and keep de­fenses on their toes,” Hills said. “We al­ways might have one or two things that we can bring into a game that may or may not get called. We’ll al­ways have some­thing planned out for each week.”

Hills was a bit con­cerned about whether the trick play would work.

“All through prac­tice he kept on un­der­throw­ing me or mak­ing me stop,” Hills re­called. “I was like, ‘Dude, I have ter­ri­ble hands as it is, make it a lit­tle eas­ier on me.’ He got the ball, hit me in the chest and it ended up be­ing a pretty good gain.”

There was even more of a worry af­ter Moore let it go.

“I lost the ball for a sec­ond in the lights,” Hills said of his first ca­reer re­cep­tion. “I was like, ‘Oh, God.’ I was wide open, so you’re think­ing, ‘Please don’t drop this.’ I made the catch and picked up a cou­ple of yards.”

Hills is clearly the starter for the third straight week, with true fresh­man Tyrrell Pi­grome the backup. Bar­ring in­jury, it ap­pears Hills will be Mary­land’s quar­ter­back un­less the re­cur­ring mis­takes he made in the past start pop­ping up on a reg­u­lar ba­sis.

Given what he saw on tape from Cen­tral Florida’s 51-13 loss at Michi­gan last Satur­day — a game Bell and Mary­land coach DJ Durkin said was more com­pet­i­tive than it looked — Hills be­lieves that the Terps will be in for the tough­est test of the sea­son. Bar­ring in­jury, it ap­pears fifth-year se­nior Perry Hills will re­main Mary­land’s quar­ter­back.

“You can see them fly­ing around hit­ting,” Hills said. “They’re a tough, phys­i­cal team, and we’re go­ing to have to pre­pare very well this week to get out and have a good day.”

CAITLIN FAW/BAL­TI­MORE SUN

Five-time Pro Bowl guard Mar­shal Yanda was called for two penal­ties Sun­day.

ROB FOLDY/GETTY IM­AGES

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