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Perry Hills could’ve played better, but he wasn’t why Maryland football lost to Indiana

Maryland’s defense had a really poor showing, and it’s not going to get any easier.

NCAA Football: Maryland at Indiana Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

Perry Hills didn’t lose Saturday’s game against Indiana. Maryland football’s quarterback certainly wasn’t as good as he was against Michigan State a week prior, but he did what he needed to do for the Terps to beat the Hoosiers.

He couldn’t hit his deep passes, but he did his job on the short ones once again. And as usual, for whatever reason, he was much more effective when throwing to the right than when he was throwing to his left.

Perry Hills Left Middle Right All
20+ yards 1/6, 23 yards, 1 TD 0/3, 1 INT 1/2, 37 yards 2/11, 60 yards
15-19 yards 0/0 1/1, 17 yards 0/0 1/1, 17 yards
10-14 yards 1/1, 21 yards 0/0 4/4, 60 yards 5/5, 81 yards
5-9 yards 2/3, 18 yards 1/1, 5 yards 3/3, 19 yards 6/7, 42 yards
0-4 yards 1/1, 4 yards 3/3, 22 yards 1/1, 6 yards 5/5, 32 yards
Less than 0 yards 1/1, 9 yards 1/1, -5 yards 1/1, 12 yards 3/3, 16 yards
All 6/12, 75 yards 6/9, 39 yards 10/11, 134 yards 22/32, 248 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT

What was different about Hills against Indiana was that he kept throwing deep passes. Against Michigan State, he only had four throws that traveled more than 20 yards in the air. Against Indiana, he threw 11 and only completed two (though two came during a hopeless comeback effort down two scores with a minute left). D.J. Moore made incredible efforts to haul each of those in, once for a 23-yard touchdown and once for a 37-yard grab on the game’s second-to-last play.

Moore did an excellent job getting downfield, but Hills underthrew him twice.

Hills missed Teldrick Morgan badly in the first quarter, throwing to the right as his receiver ran to the left, and Indiana’s Marcelino Ball picked it off.

This interception wasn’t exactly an arm punt, as Maryland’s offense was rolling at midfield. But it hardly put Indiana in a good spot, as the Hoosiers would begin their drive at their own 9-yard line. It was Maryland’s defense that allowed the resulting 91-yard touchdown drive.

He also missed an incredibly open Morgan in the second quarter, but that didn’t really matter. Maryland still marched down the field and scored on that drive, so not much harm done there.

Hills’ fourth-quarter fumble certainly hurt Maryland’s chances of winning. That was a key mistake in a big moment. But he still led an offense that scored 36 points. This defeat is on Maryland’s defense.

Indiana ran the dang ball, and Maryland had no answer

The Hoosiers came into Saturday’s game with the No. 101 rushing attack in the nation, according to S&P+. They proceeded to run for 414 yards on a swiss cheese Maryland defense, partially thanks to a wildcat formation that flummoxed the Terps.

Here’s the tricky formation Indiana debuted on its very first drive.


Looks normal, right?

Actually, the guy lining up at quarterback is 270-pound behemoth Tyler Natee, a running back. Zander Diamont, Indiana’s speedy backup quarterback, is lined up next to him. Richard Lagow, the Hoosiers’ starting quarterback, stayed on the sidelines for this formation, as did running back Devine Redding, who ran for 130 yards on the day.

Natee and Diamont swapped traditional roles, as the running back would take the direct snap and run a read-option with the quarterback. Then they’d switch things up and have Diamont line up as a quarterback and run the same play.

Out of this formation, the Hoosiers ran for 39 yards on four straight plays to get on the scoreboard first, and this was a sign of what was to come.

Indiana gashed the Terps for 8.5 yards per carry out of this formation, compared to 6.4 with Lagow at quarterback. Neither of those numbers are acceptable, but that first one’s obviously worse. The Terps even left their usual nickel formation to go with a 4-3, but it didn’t matter.

The big blow game when Maryland needed to stop the Hoosiers on 3rd-and-2 with the game on the line. Diamont kept the ball and went untouched for a 52-yard touchdown, as Maryland’s edge defenders overpursued and left the right side of the line completely open. DJ Durkin could only smile.

Maryland’s defense is in big, big trouble this week. Michigan has one of the best all-around offenses the Terps will face this season (to go along with the best defense in the country). This could get ugly.

Let’s end this on a positive note

Maryland offensive coordinator Walt Bell’s penchant for trick plays has been previously noted, but on Saturday he unleashed something we’ve all been waiting for: a Tyrrell Pigrome package. It’ll only go down in the books as a 17-yard run, but as far as 17-yard runs go, this one was exciting.

I’ve been expecting Bell to bring in a special package for Pigrome since we saw him juke a Howard defender out of his shoes in September. There’s no reason not to put him in for a couple plays against Michigan this week. Against the Wolverines, Bell might as well throw everything at the wall and see what sticks.