Terps will stick with Hills in Purdue game, Durkin says
COLLEGE PARK — Maryland linebacker Roman Braglio could see the pain quarterback Perry Hills was trying to hide as he walked to the sideline after injuring his right shoulder during the second overtime of what would be a 30-24 win at Central Florida.
Before they watched true freshman quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome race 24 yards for the winning touchdown, Braglio, a senior, attempted to lift the spirits of his longtime teammate by reminding Hills of a similar injury Braglio had suffered as a sophomore and how he didn’t miss any time because of it.
“That’s why I kept rubbing it in Perry’s face after he came off the field, ‘You know I did this, it’s the same thing,’ ” Braglio recalled Tuesday. “He just kind of laughed at me and told me to shut up. … Things Perry Hills
happen. Perry’s a tough kid. Got in, got his treatment, he’s good now.”
Helped by the fact that Maryland (3-0) had a week off after the Sept. 17 game in Orlando, the injury Hills suffered after being slammed to the ground has apparently healed enough for the fifth-year senior to start Saturday’s Big Ten opener against Purdue (2-1).
First-year Maryland coach DJ Durkin, who has often talked about the toughness and resilience Hills has demonstrated throughout his sometimes difficult career, listed Hills as the starter Monday and said Tuesday, “Perry’s doing good. He’ll be ready to go. We plan on that.”
Purdue coach Darrell Hazell told reporters during his weekly news conference Tuesday that his team is not simply going to watch tape of Hills, who is coming off a rough game that included being sacked five times and completing just 10 of 23 passes for 127 yards. Pigrome is on the Boilermakers’ scouting report, too.
“You know, we’ll see who they roll out there on Saturday. You’ve got to be prepared for both of those guys,” Hazell said. “They’re both very different in their style of play. One’s a guy that can do a little bit of both. One guy [Pigrome] is a dynamic runner that we saw in the overtime victory over [Central Florida]. But I think the main thing we have to do is stop the run first and put them in some pressure situations with the passing game.”
While he wants to get as many playmakers onto the field for the Terps as he can, Durkin acknowledged that the quarterback position is different from wide receiver or running back.
“It is a different spot in terms of that, the rhythm of how things go. There’s so much communication that goes through the quarterback’s position in our offense. Obviously, he’s distributing the ball and the ball’s in his hands every down,” Durkin said. “To rotate there, it’s different than other spots.”
As of now, Durkin said he doesn’t have any plans to use Pigrome against Purdue.
“It’s good to know we have that option available to us,” Durkin said. “It’s good to know he knows he needs to keep improving and getting better. That position, it’s how you play a full game, not just one snap. That was all he had in that game and he did well with it. We’re going to continue to keep bringing him along and get him ready to go.”
Against Central Florida, Durkin saw positive signs from Hills and the rest of his team throughout the second half, particularly in the two overtime periods.
“Our guys had a nice calm over them, like, ‘ Let’s go win this.’ That was the biggest thing to me,” Durkin said. “Perry, that guy’s been through adversity. He’s been through it, and to see him respond with that type of confidence, that’s a guy that’s been there before. That’s how you want your whole team to respond. I said after the game, that’s something we can build on.”
That Hills set the tone in the first overtime — particularly with a 14-yard run on second down to set up his 5-yard touchdown — did not surprise another of his longtime teammates.
“Perry always sets the tone,” senior offensive tackle Michael Dunn said. “With a quarterback as tough as he is, just runs through a guy, as an offensive lineman you love it. You see that, it makes you want to go out and block harder for that guy. What Perry did in the first overtime was incredible to watch.”
NOTES: Durkin announced that senior safety Denzel Conyers suffered a torn ACL against Central Florida and will have surgery this week. Conyers, who came back to start the first three games after being taken to Shock Trauma with a concussion in August, is expected to miss the rest of the season. Junior Josh Woods, who, like Braglio, played at McDonogh, will make his first career start Saturday. Big Ten opener Saturday, 3:30 p.m. TV: Big Ten Network Radio: 105.7 FM, 980 AM Line: Maryland by 10