Perry Hills has been Maryland football’s No. 1 quarterback since the team started practicing in August, but the specter of true freshman Tyrrell Pigrome has loomed over him the whole time.
Hills did exactly what Maryland asked of him Saturday against Howard, but a couple galvanizing runs by Pigrome were enough for some people to call for an increased role for the freshman.
Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Walt Bell squashed any talk of a competition between the two. He stressed that Hills is the starter, with Pigrome potentially receiving a small packaged role Friday against Florida International.
“Perry Hills is our starter, and he will be our starter until he proves himself not the starter,” Bell said. “One thing I think is important about the quarterback position is that you play it confidently and that you play it confidently from a command aspect and a decision-making standpoint.”
Hills finished the team’s season opener 14-for-19 with 126 yards passing. He gave way to Pigrome in the third quarter with the Terps up 35-0. The freshman went 4-for-6 with 60 yards, and flashed the athletic ability that won him Alabama’s Gatorade Player of the Year award. He won’t be competing for playing time with Hills, but Bell could still put him in for a few plays here and there. Still, this is no Notre Dame two-QB situation. Hills is the starter.
“I am a firm believer that if you have two quarterbacks, you have zero quarterbacks.,” Bell said. “Now, is Pig gonna be a great player someday? Absolutely. Are there places and packages where he can help us in a packaged role? Yes.”
Pigrome dazzled fans with his scrambling ability, but as true freshmen usually are, he was far from perfect in his debut. His scramble and juke in the third quarter are far from the whole story.
“Was his percent of error at the line of scrimmage, regardless of how explosive he may look in between the white lines very high? Absolutely,” Bell said. “He’s got plenty of things that we have to fix and a couple mistakes and third-down issues that we had, and some of the things behind the scenes that you guys don’t notice. A lot of those things he has to work and improve on, which you expect for a freshman quarterback.”
Hills finished with one rushing attempt for five yards, compared to 53 yards on seven rushes for Pigrome. He had plenty of plays where he had the option to keep the ball himself, but the read dictated he hand the ball to a running back.
“We probably ran power-read four or four times while Perry was in the game, zone-read, five, six times,” Bell said. “No real designed quarterback runs, but I could see that start to increase a little bit.”
Hills probably won’t have any more games where he carries the ball only once. He was Maryland’s second-leading rusher in 2015, and is more of a bruising runner compared to the speedy Pigrome. If defenses keep focusing on Hills and not the team’s other backs, so be it.
“Hey, if the defense makes me keep the ball, I’ll keep the ball,” Hills said. “If we’re just gonna run it down their throats and establish a downhill run game, we’re gonna do that as well.”