By Joe Atmonavage
Head coach Randy Edsall may not be any closer to choosing his starting quarterback, but the fans who came out for the Terps live scrimmage Saturday got a look at who is winning the quarterback thus far in fall camp.
Junior Perry Hills worked with the first team Saturday—a decision Edsall said he based on what the quarterbacks have done in camp.
“We evaluated off all the practices and everything we had for the first two weeks,” he said. “We charted and graded everything. Coming into the scrimmage, we based it off the things that we look for in a quarterback, in terms of how they handle the huddle, the line of scrimmage and their production.”
Hills took the most of the opportunity, looking comfortable behind center and in command of the offense. He led the first-team offense easily down the field on his first drive before finding Levern Jacobs for an seven-yard touchdown.
For the day, he threw for 72 yards while completing 12 of his 17 passing attempts. Hills finished with two touchdowns and two interceptions as well.
“I feel like I did a good job driving the offense down and scoring a couple times,” he said.
Hills also showed the ability run the ball on draw plays and read options, a staple of the Maryland offense from a year ago when C.J. Brown led the team in rushing from the quarterback position. Hills said he worked with his former quarterback coach in his hometown of Pittsburgh to improve his speed and athleticism. He ran for 21 yards on four carries Saturday.
Hills and the other two quarterbacks, Caleb Rowe and Daxx Garman, know that the scrimmage was just another part of the audition to be the Terps starting quarterback when the team opens their season September 5, but they said they are just trying to get better, individually and as a team.
“I think our role is all the same,” Rowe, who Edsall said was charted as the third quarterback through two weeks of camp, said. “It’s to move the offense. I don’t think Coach Edsall has made a decision and I am not really worried about it. At the end of the day, it is about making Maryland football better.”
Whoever the quarterback ends up being will have help in the backfield. Brandon Ross shined running the ball Saturday, totaling 80 yards on the ground on eight carries.
Edsall said Ross’ play in camp and today has separated himself in the running back completion with junior Wes Brown.
“What you saw out of Brandon today is the things he has been doing all of camp,” Edsall said. “That was a thing I was very, very pleased about today that he carried over what he did in the first two weeks to today. He has been running decisive and making great decisions.”
As they did Saturday, Brown and Ross will almost certainly share the load throughout the regular season with their different running styles. Brown is best used in short yardage situations where his power is often overwhelming for defenders and Ross is hard to catch in space.
Hills may have gotten the most out of the running backs Saturday, but Garman had the best day throwing the football. The Oklahoma State transfer was 6-of-8 threw the air for 135 yards, highlighted by a 49-yard pass to freshman wide receiver D.J. Moore.
Edsall said he liked certain things from all three quarterbacks today, but like the last two weeks, him and the coaching staff will continue to evaluate.
“We don’t play until September 5,” he said. “I don’t have to make any decisions until we line up and take the first snap.”
While he may not make a decision until that moment, Edsall said he would be comfortable with any one of them leading the charge.
“I got confidence in whoever is going to go out there under center,” he said. “The great thing is when you have competition, it gives you opportunities to put it out there and see how people respond.”
News and notes
- A few freshmen really stood out in Saturday’s scrimmage. Wide receiver D.J. Moore was probably the biggest winner of the scrimmage. The Philadelphia native caught six passes for 90 yards and was seemingly always open. He is someone Terp fans should get familiar with. Tight end Avery Edwards caught three passes, including a touchdown. At six-foot-four, he could potentially be a red zone option.
- It was Teprs fans first time seeing Taivon Jacobs back on the field after the speedster tore his ACL last season. Jacobs is in the running to start and said he feels healthier than prior to the knee injury.
- Terps quarterbacks will be pleased to not be playing against Will Likely once the season starts. The preseason All-Big 10 cornerback picked off Hills in the scrimmage. The junior had six interceptions in 2014.
- Edsall said offensive lineman Damian Prince and Michael Dunn had the day off and that was a coach’s decision.
- The Terps ran 137 plays Saturday and while there was some confusion with the stats in the press box, the final score of the scrimmage was Red Team 37-White Team 17, according to the stats released after.