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What do the numbers tell us about who will win Maryland’s QB battle?

Perry Hills might be in a better position than you think!

Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

Maryland's first preseason depth chart was released last week, with one surprise standing above the rest: the Terrapins have a three-way battle for the quarterback position, as Perry Hills will be competing with expected favorites Caleb Rowe and Daxx Garman for the job. All three have briefly held down starting positions with power programs thanks to injuries, but who wins the job this year?

Of the three, Hills was the highest-rated recruit, but it's close.

Player Rivals 247 Comp.
Caleb Rowe 3 stars (5.6) 0.8475
Perry Hills 3 stars (5.5) 0.8540
Daxx Garman 3 stars (5.5) 0.8109

How about statistically? Here's how the numbers from last year match up (Garman's are from Oklahoma State, naturally). A note: rushing totals exclude sack yardage, because the NCAA's policy on including sacks in rushing numbers is dumb. Rate stat leaders are bolded:

2014 Comp Att Yards TD INT CompRate Sacks Sack Rate Yards/Att. TD rate INT rate Rushes Yards Yards/Carry TD
Caleb Rowe 34 54 489 5 4 63.0% 1 1.8% 8.8 0.09 0.07 12 9 0.75 0
Perry Hills 5 10 86 1 0 50.0% 0 0.0% 8.6 0.10 0.00 3 15 5.00 0
Daxx Garman 152 277 2041 12 12 54.9% 31 10.1% 6.2 0.04 0.04 29 124 4.28 1

That's not entirely fair, though -- Garman started for much of the season, while the other two were playing back-up snaps. What about career totals? Garman's only played one year collegiately, while the other two have previously been starters for at least some period of time.

Career Comp Att Yards TD INT CompRate Sacks Sack Rate Yards/Att. TD rate INT rate Rushes Yards Yards/Carry TD
Caleb Rowe 122 228 1763 12 10 53.5% 8 3.39% 7.47 0.05 0.04 36 125 3.47 0
Perry Hills 102 179 1422 9 7 57.0% 24 11.82% 7.00 0.04 0.03 49 172 3.51 3
Daxx Garman 152 277 2041 12 12 54.9% 31 10.06% 6.63 0.04 0.04 29 124 4.28 1

Going by the rate stats, it appears we know the following things:

  • All three quarterbacks have below-average accuracy, but Hills has been the most accurate in his collegiate career (and has thrown the lowest rate of interceptions).
  • Rowe has been by far the best at avoiding sacks. It's not even close. That's an underrated part of being a quarterback -- sure, the offensive line plays a significant role in how much pressure the quarterback sees, but it's up to the quarterback to either get the ball out in time or avoid that pressure by scrambling.
  • Rowe also appears to be the best deep-ball threat of the group, which comes as little surprise. He's nearly a full half-yard up on yards per attempt over Hills, and has a slightly higher
  • Garman may have the highest yards per carry of the group, but Hills is probably the best threat on the ground. He has the highest non-sack carries, which shows the coaches' confidence in his legs, and his average was almost certainly brought down by Maryland's horrid 2012 offensive line (behind which he did much of his rushing).