In a 28-17 win over Michigan State on Saturday, Maryland football’s offense looked as good as it has all season. This certainly has something to do with the fact that the Spartans’ defense simply isn’t very good, but Perry Hills finally completed passes at the rate Maryland will need him to this season.
The Terps are about to go through a stretch of real tough teams, and this is encouraging:
|20+ yards||0/1||1/1, 36 yards, 1 TD||2/3, 56 yards||3/5, 92 yards, 1 TD|
|10-14 yards||0/0||1/2, 15 yards||0/0||1/2, 15 yards|
|5-9 yards||1/1, 5 yards||0/0||2/3, 15 yards, 1 TD||3/4, 20 yards, 1 TD|
|0-4 yards||0/0||3/3, 25 yards||2/2, 6 yards||5/5, 31 yards|
|Less than 0 yards||4/4, 24 yards||2/2, 4 yards||2/3, 9 yards||8/9, 39 yards|
|All||5/7, 29 yards||7/8, 80 yards, 1 TD||8/11, 86 yards, 1 TD||20/26, 195 yards, 2 TDs|
That chart has a whole lot more green than we’re used to. Hills was able to convert a couple deep passes, and that’s a big difference.
(Hills’ five-yard completion to Lorenzo Harrison isn’t included above, because it was totally a run.)
In the past, he and fill-in Tyrrell Pigrome couldn’t get anything going deep. Against Michigan State, Hills converted a 36-yarder to a wide open D.J. Moore. He slipped right past MSU’s defenders, who didn’t appear to register his existence.
This was a breakdown of Michigan State’s coverage, clearly. Hills won’t throw an easier touchdown in the five, maybe six games he has left at Maryland. He also completed a 34-yarder to Jacobs in the fourth quarter, which was just enough.
But even if those deep bombs were fluky, Hills was as efficient as he’s ever been throwing short. And his receivers were always in good positions to run after the catch, something that hadn’t been true during Maryland’s two losses.
Also, as has been true in the past, Hills has been more efficient when throwing to his right than to his left. Jacobs often lined up to the right against the Spartans, and that’s where many of his receptions came.
This is Walt Bell’s offense
After two games of inefficiency, Maryland’s offensive coordinator had things moving right along — at least for stretches. And that’s probably the best thing we can expect from this team against the non-Rutgers opponents it has left on the schedule.
Hills couldn’t have had such a good performance without some help from running backs Lorenzo Harrison (105 yards rushing) and Ty Johnson (115).
Maryland got exactly what it needed from those two: consistency and big plays.
Johnson’s 40-yarder in the second quarter came only a few plays before Hills hit Moore for that touchdown. His 44-yard gain in the fourth led Kenneth Goins Jr.’s two-yard rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter that gave Maryland the lead for good.
Both running backs were also effective as receivers, something that’ll have to continue for Maryland to have success. Here’s Ty Johnson taking a screen for 16 yards, a solidly efficient play in Bell’s offense.
For Bell’s offense to work, the team’s best athletes need to get the ball in space. Hills ensured that would happen on this play by holding the ball until the past possible second — as MSU defenders were breathing down his neck — before releasing it.
This is what Maryland’s offense is going to have to look like against Indiana. Consistent screens and a couple large gains on the ground are a must. For the Terps to get a win in Bloomington, they’ll probably need one or two big passing plays too.