clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Perry Hills, Maryland's passing game vs. Richmond and the fly sweep

New, 188 comments

Maryland's starting quarterback needs to improve, but the Terps were still able to find some success in the passing game Saturday.

Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Well, redshirt junior Perry Hills sure looks a lot like true freshman Perry Hills, at least through game one. It's clear Maryland's starting quarterback was giving his all (Randy Edsall made it sound like he might have been trying too hard, if anything), but Saturday again Richmond was simply not a Big Ten-caliber quarterbacking performance.

Bottom line: you can't throw like this against an FCS defense and expect to succeed against Michigan State, Penn State and the other fierce defensive units the Terps will play this year.

Perry Hills Left Middle Right All
15+ yards 0/1 0/2, INT 1/1, 15 yards 1/4, 15 yards
10-14 yards 3/4, 61 yards, TD 0/0 0/1 3/5, 61 yards, TD
5-9 yards 0/2 1/1, 7 yards 0/1 1/4, 7 yards
0-4 yards 1/1, 5 yards 1/1, 4 yards 2/2, 13 yards 4/4, 22 yards
Less than 0 yards 0/1 2/2, 35 yards, TD 1/1, -3 yards 3/4, 32 yards, TD
All 4/9, 66 yards, TD 4/6, 46 yards, TD, INT 4/6, 25 yards 12/21, 138 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT

Hills rarely attempted to stretch the field vertically against Richmond, throwing just four passes at least 15 yards in the air. The one that was completed went the minimum 15, while the three misses went 21 (underthrown), 40 (underthrown, interception) and 40 (overthrown).

Here's that interception, which probably should have been a touchdown.

Here's another throw to Levern Jacobs that should have been a touchdown.

Underthrows were a pattern for Hills throughout the game.

Hills was able to have some success throwing to the left hash, however. He completed two first down passes to D.J. Moore on that side of the field and a touchdown pass to Malcolm Culmer, one of his best throws of the day.

Taking that into consideration along with Randy Edsall's post-game comments, which suggest Hills definitely showed more than this in camp, there at least some reason to believe Hills could find more success at the position. With games coming up against much tougher defenses, however, it's clear his in-game performance needs to improve.

Even while Hills struggled, Maryland was able to find success with one particular "pass" play, and it's one of my favorites.

Stitt's happening in College Park

I want to talk to you about this beautiful play. Maryland ran it twice Saturday -- once to Levern Jacobs, once to Taivon Jacobs. Levern went 23 yards for a touchdown, while Taivon gained 12 for a first down on a drive that led to a Wes Brown score.

Here's Levern's score:

This is a wrinkle of the fly sweep, invented by Bob Stitt, one of the brightest offensive minds in the NCAA and the head coach at Montana (the Grizz just pulled off a stunning upset of FCS No. 1 North Dakota State last week). My colleague Ian Boyd at SB Nation wrote an informative piece on Stitt's' offense and how it works, so I'll let him take it from here.

The first thing most people heard about Stitt was that he designed a play West Virginia's head coach Dana Holgorsen used in a blowout victory in the Orange Bowl.

It was a basic fly sweep play, but executed from the shotgun, with QB Geno Smith tossing the ball out in front to the receiver sweeping across the formation. Stitt reasoned that if the handoff was risky, since it could become a fumble, why not make it a toss? A fumbled exchange would be an incomplete pass rather than a potential turnover.

Generally, if you can limit mistakes and get your playmakers in a position to make plays (like running full speed with the ball with blockers in front of him), your offense will win. This play accomplishes exactly that. Without a real vertical passing game as a consistent threat, Maryland needs to find ways to get explosive playmakers like Levern and Taivon Jacobs the ball, and a fly sweep is a perfect way to do so.

This is the initial alignment for both teams.

Maryland's in the shotgun, with two receivers wide and one in the slot on the near side.There's also tight end Derrick Hayward on the left side as an extra blocker for the "pass" play.

Richmond appears to be in a man setup on the far side and some kind of man-zone match with the three defensive backs on the near side. There's a safety shaded down in the middle of the field and two outside linebackers hanging off the edges of the Terrapin line, likely due to Maryland's success punishing the Spiders' front seven with physical running backs Brandon Ross and Wes Brown.

Knowing that this is going to be a play that goes outside of the right tackle, we can see that Maryland starts by being outnumbered on that side, with the three defensive backs against just two wide receivers blocking.

This is what the alignment looks like when Jacobs gets the ball.

Maryland pulls the left side of its offensive line over to the right, momentarily disrupting the far defensive end before moving on to the other defensive line targets, preventing any immediate disruption of the play.

Meanwhile, the linebacker and cornerback on the far side have not moved, because they don't know which direction the play is going yet. Hills could conceivably keep the ball or hand it off to Brown if the defense overadjusts to Jacobs's movement.

A few moments later...

The successful pull of the left side of Maryland's line allows center Evan Mulrooney and right guard Andrew Zeller to get to the second level, taking out additional defenders and setting Jacobs up for the score.

That leads to this:

And this:

Touchdown, Maryland.