Well, we kind of expected it based on how he went down and how much pain he was in afterwards, but now there's confirmation: Perry Hills, Maryland's starting quarterback for the first seven games of the season, will miss the rest of the year with a torn ACL. Hills, of course, was himself filling in for C.J. Brown, the expected starting QB who tore his own ACL in preseason, resulting in the true freshman Hills stepping up to start.
First things first: it's a bad injury for Hills, who is without doubt one of the toughest QBs Maryland's ever had, a great leader, and a good kid. You have to feel for him, and here's hoping the recovery is speedy enough to get him back and up to full speed by the time practice starts.
But for the immediate, it's time for Maryland to turn elsewhere ... again. After Hills' injury, the Terps put in Devin Burns, who kickstarted the offense in the second half against N.C. State, but relied on Caleb Rowe in the two-minute drill to lead them down the field at the end of the game. Usually you're not feeling good when you're choosing between a re-converted wide receiver and a true freshman who burnt his redshirt halfway through the year, but both Burns and Rowe looked good enough in their limited snaps against State that I have some optimism they might work out okay.
If nothing else, no matter who starts, Maryland's offense will at least have an identity in its final five games. It seemed at times it wasn't sure what it was trying to be with Hills; it certainly had nothing to hang its hat on. Burns and Rowe are so drastically different, at such ends of the spectrum, that the team will, at least, know what it's going to do. With Burns, it'll turn into the zone-read option offense Mike Locksley always wanted Maryland to be; with Rowe, you'll see that West Coast, Air Raid-lite attack that the Terps used with Hills in the first quarter of the State game, emphasizing Rowe's superior arm.
That may make things easier on defenses, but it'll also give Maryland's offense some help. Players play better when they play with conviction, and it's a lot easier to give them that when you give them an identity. Maryland's either going to pass all over teams or die trying, or run all over them or die trying. That could be a morale boost.
Edsall has taken pains not to tip his hand as to which of the two will start on Saturday, but my gut tells me it'll be Burns. I'd say it's likely Burns is more ready for major snaps anyway, but B.C.'s horrid run defense should push Maryland and Locksley more toward the zone-read option and Burns' legs, instead of Rowe's arm.
Either way, we're about to see some real interesting offensive gameplanning over the next few weeks. Godspeed, Locks. It's not a situation I'd like to be in.