The Maryland Football team held an open scrimmage as part of their "Fan Appreciation Day" on Saturday, giving Terps fans their first real look at new starting quarterback Perry Hills, who along with fellow freshman Stefon Diggs, impressed the several thousand fans who showed up at Byrd Stadium.
Hills ran the first team offense and honestly was more impressive than I thought he'd be, especially with his ability to get out and run. On one drive, he ran for 36 yards, including a 16 yard scramble for a touchdown. That's a good skill to have this season as the offensive line will likely be one of Maryland's biggest question marks. In terms of throwing the ball, I didn't think Hills did anything special. He completed short and intermediate passes, but nothing really down the field that was jaw-dropping.
Caleb Rowe ran the 2nd team offense and seemed more comfortable throwing, including taking shots down the field. I think overall Hills was more impressive all around but Rowe might be the better passer. Devin Burns, who was a quarterback in high school but converted to wide receiver, is now back under center as Maryland's 3rd string QB. He was great on his feet but, as you'd expect, wasn't the best passer of the day. That could change as he transitions back to playing QB and begins taking reps again as a QB in practice.
While everyone was anxious to see what Maryland's offense would be like without C.J. Brown calling the plays, the other curiosity focused around freshman sensation Stefon Diggs, who didn't disappoint.
The 5-star wide receiver scored three touchdowns during the scrimmage, including the first two times he touched the ball. The former Good Counsel star scored on a 68-yard punt return, a 98-yard kickoff return, and closed out the first half with an 11-yard touchdown reception. My only concern with Diggs is whether teams start to avoid kicking to him, especially on punts. It was clear that Diggs possesses the capability to be a game changer for Maryland this season. His ability to change directions at the drop of a dime and then follow that up with breakaway speed was an amazing sight to see and one many Maryland fans will enjoy throughout the season.
There wasn't too much more worth noting at the scrimmage. The defense wasn't anything special, but I feel like most of the time you can't really evaluate a defense accurately during scrimmages such as these, especially when two of your best defenders, Kenny Tate and Matt Robinson, aren't playing. Speaking of Robinson, A.J. Hendy started at strong safety in his place and left the scrimmage with an injured ankle according to head coach Randy Edsall. Hopefully that's not serious.
Overall, I felt more optimistic after the scrimmage than I did prior. I don't know if I'd expect a 5-6 win season just yet, but that doesn't seem as far-fetched as it did a few days ago. It all depends on how well the offensive line comes together and whether Maryland is healthy and strong enough on defense to keep the offense within striking distance. Additionally, if Hills or Rowe can emerge as a decent QB who limits mistakes, Maryland will always be one Stefon Diggs play away from staying in or winning a game.