Terps shuffle line in bid to reduce sacks
Maryland found out plenty about quarterback Perry Hills in the first month of the season, including a consistent ability to pick himself up after a sack and move along.
The Terrapins would rather not test that skill much more.
Hills was sacked 16 times while playing all but one snap in the Terrapins’ first four games. Just five quarterbacks nationally took more sacks in the first month of the season, and just one of them (California’s Zach Maynard) averaged more than four sacks a game.
“You never like to have your quarterback get hit that much,” Maryland guard Bennett Fulper said Tuesday. “The more hits he’s taking, the more opportunity there is for him to get hurt or injured. We just need to do the best we can to keep people off him.”
The Terps (2-2) will try to do so with a reshuffled offensive line when Wake Forest (3-2, 1-2 ACC) visits Byrd Stadium.
Freshman Mike Madaras is atop the depth chart at left tackle ahead of erstwhile starter Nick Klemm. Meanwhile, redshirt freshman Andrew Zeller displaced De’Onte Arnett at right guard after an impressive debut in a loss to West Virginia.
“They’re only going to get better,” coach Randy Edsall said.
Madaras played in every game last month, spelling Klemm for roughly one series a quarter. He would become only the fifth Maryland offensive lineman since 2001 to start as a true freshman; three (Stephon Heyer, Jared Gaither and Bruce Campbell) logged time in the NFL, while Fulper is the other.
Meanwhile, Zeller stood out for a hustle play in his first college game. On wide receiver Stefon Diggs‘ 56-yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter, Zeller created room for the freshman when he rushed downfield and took out three Mountaineers with one block.
“I was surprised,” Diggs said. “Actually, when I was running, I was like, ‘Are there some guys missing on the field?’ When I watched the film and watched the touchdown, he did a great job.”
Whether such enthusiasm translates into better protection for Hills is uncertain. But it’s obvious Maryland needs to work on limiting the contact Hills absorbed throughout September.
Some of the culpability lies with the Terps’ offensive line, but Hills also is responsible for improving his ability to get rid of the ball on time to reduce his wear and tear.
“That’s something we have to get better at,” Edsall said. “A lot of that is fundamentals and technique up front. Part of that, too, is it is Perry’s job to get rid of the ball on time. That’s something we’re going to continually work on and get better at. We have to get better at it. One of the things we’ve told Perry is if you don’t want to get hit so much, then make sure the ball comes out on time.”
Ferrara still sidelined
Kicker Nick Ferrara is in a period of mandated rest as he recovers from his latest hip injury. Ferrara, who was shut down in the middle of preseason camp, visited with a doctor in New York on Sept. 21 and was prescribed three weeks of rest.
“I’m not sure yet if Nick will be back for the season. ,” Edsall said. “They just told him he needs to have rest. After that, we’ll see where he’s at. I don’t know if he’ll be kicking at all this year. I’m just waiting to see what the doctors tell me.”
Ferrara, a senior, did not redshirt early in his career and is eligible for a fifth year if he does not play this season. Freshman Brad Craddock is handling Maryland’s placekicking and kickoff duties in place of Ferrara, who ranks ninth in school history with 30 field goals.
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