Long gone are the days of the Wishbone and I-formations. We have entered the era of the spread offense, where read options and run-pass options dominate many an NCAA offensive playbook.
While, theoretically, such a scheme could be run by a traditional pocket passer or a mobile, running quarterback, the prototype quarterback for the spread offense is a true dual-threat — somebody who excels at throwing and running the ball, and is more than merely capable of doing both.
For an offense that was proficient on the ground last season, one of the final pieces to a truly potent Maryland offense may just be some competent quarterback play. Luckily for the Terps, two of their newest quarterbacks appear to have the tools necessary to turn that potential into reality. Incoming four-star 2017 signee Kasim Hill and former four-star recruit and North Carolina transfer Caleb Henderson have skills we’ve seen from Maryland quarterbacks in the past, but rarely combined in one player.
Hill was classified as a pro-style quarterback coming out of high school, indicating his skills lie more in the pocket than out of it, but the tape indicates that may not be the case. On one of the biggest stages in high school football at the Under Armour All-America game, Hill showcased his ability to avoid a sack and turn a broken play into a 26-yard gain.
Hill’s also a good enough runner that offensive coordinator Walt Bell can design running plays for him. And Hill is strong enough that he can finish runs like a running back.
Interceptions have plagued Maryland quarterbacks over the last several years, partially due to Maryland’s quarterbacks’ collective inability to progress through their reads. Bell was able to mitigate that to an extent last season by stretching the field horizontally, rather than vertically, playing into the strengths of starting quarterback Perry Hills. With Hill or Henderson at quarterback, Bell may be able to focus on pushing the ball up the field a bit more. Even as a senior in high school, Hill showed the ability to run through a progression and find a non-primary receiver for a touchdown.
Like Hill, Henderson was a more-than-capable runner in high school. He was also classified as a pro-style quarterback back in his recruiting days. In fact, both he and Hill were the No. 10 pro-style quarterbacks in their respective classes.
Here’s a designed run play through the right side of the line of scrimmage where Henderson looks more like a running back than a quarterback.
If the Terps are ever going to compete with the best teams in the Big Ten, it won’t be enough to just play with speed from sideline to sideline. They’re going to need to vertically stretch the field. Even off his back foot, Henderson has the arm strength and the pinpoint accuracy to hit a receiver in stride for a big play down the field.
When was the last time we saw a Maryland quarterback drop a dime right in his receiver’s lap 50 yards downfield? Well, with Henderson under center, that’s at least a possibility.
Henderson is three years older than Hill and has already been at Maryland for a full season, so he’ll have the edge in experience. But it’s definitely possible that Hill makes enough of an impression in fall camp to start immediately. Either way, if Maryland has a quarterback who can make plays through the air and on the ground, the Terps should be competitive all season long.