Hill has work to do for Terps to thrive in Big Ten

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - FRONT PAGE -

SCHMUCK, thing, since his ac­cu­racy was not an is­sue dur­ing the three games he ap­peared in be­fore tear­ing up his knee against Cen­tral Florida last Septem­ber. He com­pleted 18 of 21 passes for 230 yards, two touch­downs and a 209.1 passer rat­ing last sea­son.

For that rea­son, he re­turned this sea­son to great ex­pec­ta­tions and he has led the Terps to a re­spectable 4-2 start. If his statistics this sea­son are more work­man­like, in­terim coach Matt Canada cau­tioned Satur­day against heap­ing too much on the shoul­ders of a young player who played so lit­tle last year.

“He played one [full] game, right?” Canada said. “He played the end of the opener and he played the start of the third game and all of the sud­den he’s sup­posed to go out there and be Joe Mon­tana. That’s not how it works.” Fair enough. The only full game he played last year was against Tow­son and he com­pleted 13 of 16 passes for 163 yards and two touch­downs. He was 3-for-3 af­ter fel­low quar­ter­back Tyrrell Pi­grome suf­fered a knee in­jury in the open­ing vic­tory over then-No. 23 Texas, and was 2-for-2 against UCF in the third game of the sea­son be­fore also suf­fer­ing a sea­son-end­ing torn ACL.

Hill dis­missed a ques­tion about the in­jury last year and whether it could be af­fect­ing his abil­ity to throw with greater ac­cu­racy, but it might be a fair one. Ravens quar­ter­back Joe Flacco needed sig­nif­i­cant time to get com­fort­able play­ing with a knee brace. Hill said that has not been a fac­tor.

“I would not say it’s hav­ing any ef­fect on me,” Hill said. “There are things that you go back and watch the film that you can do bet­ter, week by week. As a team and my­self, we’re just try­ing to get bet­ter week by week against ev­ery op­po­nent that we face.”

The Terps clearly have bought into Canada’s team-first ap­proach, the play­ers adopt­ing the same kind of coach­s­peak to point out the im­por­tance of not look­ing too far ahead or be­hind. For his part, Canada has tried to keep the pres­sure off his play­ers dur­ing this uniquely chal­leng­ing sea­son. Es­pe­cially his two young quar­ter­backs.

“They get too much blame and too much credit,” Canada said. Hill “has got to play bet­ter at times, but he made some plays to­day, too. Some of those throws he made, I’m not sure ev­ery­body else could have made those throws. We be­lieve in him. We be­lieve in Pig. … Both of them are play­ing well.

“Ob­vi­ously, we think about all the [plays] that don’t work, but we’ll get bet­ter. We’ll con­tinue to make plays. If we’re sit­ting there next week and we win a game, we’ll be happy. That’s all that mat­ters.” Read more from colum­nist Peter Schmuck on his blog, "The Schmuck Stops Here," at bal­ti­more­sun.com/schmuck­blog.

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