There was no timeout forthcoming from the Maryland sideline Saturday, not with more than a minute to play and the Terrapins on the precipice of a chance to try a game-tying field goal.
Quarterback Perry Hills collected himself after taking a 3-yard loss. A few seconds trickled away.
The Terps lined up. A few more seconds were gone. The call came in, and more time elapsed. The offensive line and wide receivers needed to be situated. Precious seconds escaped.
About 25 seconds disappeared during the chaotic scramble, and Maryland never fully regrouped. The Terps sandwiched a pair of incompletions around a reception for a loss of 4 yards. There would be no field goal try, nor would there be overtime in what became a 24-21 loss to Connecticut.
“When you’re down there, everything’s flying,” wide receiver Kevin Dorsey said. “You just feel like the world’s moving a thousand miles an hour. You look up and the clock and you want it to move slower, but it’s moving a lot faster than you want it to.”
In a season when the Terps (2-1) must rely on a cadre of newcomers, the mundane becomes harrowing. The first time for everything really is the first time for so many on the roster, especially a youthful offense struggling to gain traction.
Such was the case with Maryland’s first two-minute drill of the season. It was frenetic, the Terps were frazzled and Hills looked like a guy playing in his third career game. Which, in fact, he was.
“The two-minute, I need to improve on a lot,” Hills said. “That’s something this whole week, I’m going to prepare like I’ve never prepared before. I don’t accept losing. I don’t like losing. But I promised my team and everyone that I’m going to prepare like I’ve never prepared before to get ready for this next game.”
The freshman was composed when talking with reporters, but clearly took his first loss as a starter hard. Maybe an interception here and a fumble there would be easier to digest and analyze in a blowout loss. It would surely be more tolerable after a victory.
But with Maryland within five yards of giving Brad Craddock a chance to match his 45-yard field goal of a week earlier, the offense went backward. The Terps lived dangerously the first two weeks with eight turnovers. Less egregious mistakes proved more costly against Connecticut. Any miscue likely will lead to a severe punishment when Maryland visits West Virginia (2-0) on Saturday.
“That’s one of the things that we haven’t been good at, even in practice, in a two-minute situation,” coach Randy Edsall said. “He’ll learn from it. I think sometimes, guys try to do too much, and they want to make something happen.”
In the macro, much of this season is about learning, absorbing difficult lessons and not repeating them. Freshman Stefon Diggs caught a touchdown pass a week after losing a fumble on a punt return. Tailback Wes Brown led the Terps in rushing after a two-turnover day against Temple.
It’s especially true of Hills. There’s little reason to yank him in the middle of a lousy outing, not with another true freshman and a converted wide receiver as the only options behind him.
Maryland would be wise to allow Hills to grow, however many stumbles he might encounter. Connecticut, with constant pressure that produced six sacks, forced the Terps into many more aggravating circumstances than their first two opponents.
If the first three games are any indication, he will have time — except when he and the Terps are forced to run a two-minute offense. After one of many humbling firsts for Maryland and its inexperienced skill players, opportunities will arise to show progress later, even if there’s still a long way to go.View Entire Story
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Patrick Stevens has covered Maryland and other Mid-Atlantic college sports for more than a decade. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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